What does Sustainable mean? “Sustainable” means to continue into the future. To use natural resources in a manner that preserves our future continuation on the farm. So, what do we do that is “Sustainable”? Actually several things:
- A lot of the new irrigation that we have installed is “drip irrigation”. This means small plastic hoses with drip emitters. Overhead sprinklers that most people are used to seeing, wastes a lot of irrigation water with evaporation and overwatering where you don’t need the irrigation water. Drip emitters are at the plant base near the drip line and are turned on and off with timers that we can pre-set depending on the current weather conditions.
- “Variable Frequency Drive” or VFD – We have installed a VFD that monitors our irrigation well. The old system would run at a certain water pressure and that pressure needed to be maintained at all times. In other words, if the system was set up for 3 or 4 long irrigation lines of overhead sprinklers, all those lines needed to be on at all times. The VFD is computerized. We dial in what water pressure we want, turn on whatever irrigation we need, and the VFD maintains the pressure that we need without wasting water! The VFD works great in tandom with the drip irrigation lines.
- We take leaf and grass trimmings from several landscapers along with horse manure and straw and/or wood chips and compost for the winter. Several times during the winter, that compost is turned and then in the spring, this rich compost is applied to our fields as organic fertilizer.
- The vegetable waste and/or trimmings from the vegetables that we sell in our farm store is either fed to our chickens & ducks or spread onto our fields as compost where it will biodegrade into fertilizer for next year’s crops.
- Cover Crop – In September and/or October, a crop is planted after harvest is done. This crop is usually a grain of some kind. This crop is grown over the winter to store the rich nutrients in the soil. The crop itself also helps keep the soil in place so we do not have erosion of the soil and any mud running off the field into roadside ditches, etc. In the spring, that crop is mown off and the fields are worked and that crop residue is worked back into the soil. Those nutrients in the plants are then released back into the soil for that year’s crop.
- We recycle all the cardboard that we use on the farm. We have a person that pick’s up the flattened cardboard and then it is taken to the recycling station for “re-use”. The current rules are for all cardboard to have a “one-time use”. This would create a huge amount of garbage in the landfills and adds a large expense to the farm…….wooden crates and/or boxes are actually against the rules now.
- We plan to create a “Recycling Center” where all employees and ourselves can recycle plastics, aluminum, and glass containers for recycling. That has not been set up yet, but hopefully in the next few weeks.