Collaborative Project Contains An Important Health Message For You and Your Soil

Jul 1, 2019

Salem producer helps to initiate effort involving both the South Dakota Soil Health Coalition and Avera Health.

As the summer weather throughout South Dakota really begins to shine, it is important for farmers, ranchers, gardeners, and the general public to examine how to protect not only their own health but the health of the soils around them. Soils are alive, home to a multitude of biological organisms and processes that, similar to the surface of our own body, when properly protected allow for an immensely productive ecosystem to thrive within and beneath their surfaces.

Continued, unprotected exposure to the potentially harsh rays of the sun can cause negative health affects for both our skin and the soils we rely on to power our agricultural systems. Skin cancer is the most common cancer, with over twenty percent of people developing this type in their lifetime. It is estimated that melanoma, specifically, will affect one in twenty-seven men and one in forty women over the course of their lifetime. According to Dr. Mandi Greenway of Avera Medical Group Dermatology, based in Mitchell, SD, there has been a steady decline in the skin health of farmers she has treated in recent years. This is due in part to changes in the type of clothing worn and lack of precautions taken when working out in the sun, but small changes can make a big difference.

Start Protecting Yourself Today

Simple steps can be taken to lower the risk for these health problems and include applying sunscreen, sporting long sleeves, and wearing wider brim hats to increase protection. Studies have shown that every inch of brim on a hat reduces the risk of skin cancer over a lifetime by ten percent. It is because of this metric that farmer Kurt Stiefvater, of Salem, SD, first thought of a collaborative project that would involve both the South Dakota Soil Health Coalition (SDSHC) and Avera Health.

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