Whether you buy your vegetables at the grocery store, the Brookings farmers’ market, or keep a balcony or backyard garden in the summer, plants are certainly a critical part of your diet. When plants are healthy, the ripple effect is positive on our health, the ecosystem and even the economy. However, when plants get sick, everyone loses. Plants make up 80 percent of our food and 98 percent of the oxygen that we breathe.
The year 2020 is special for plant enthusiasts; the United Nations has declared it the International Year of Plant Health. Historically and currently, plants are an important resource to the landscape and economy of the state of South Dakota. The state ranks 15th in the list of the top agricultural producing states in the US.
South Dakota’s $9-billion-agricultural industry includes corn, soybeans and wheat. This has not always been the case; 150 years ago 98% of the land was covered in deep-rooted, wild prairie plants. A natural prairie characteristic is wildfires, which reduced pathogens and infections, leading to a self-regenerative and sustainable system. Whether it be reducing the fertilizer input on our lawns or buying locally grown produce, our city’s residents can support 2020, the UN International Year of Plant Health, by supporting sustainable plant production.