Sustainability has so many different definitions. To us, it means two things: that our business is economically viable and that our farming practices will ensure our most valuable assets will be productive and healthy in the future.
We participate in industry surveys such as the Potato Sustainability Initiative to benchmark our performance with other farms and regions. We have an up-to-date environmental farm plan and have on-farm food safety audits (Canada-GAP certified).
In addition to these programs, we employ many different strategies to conserve our soil and water resources. We use blown-in fence lines to improve our farmland and restore topsoil to eroded areas. Special areas of the farm are set aside for nature where land is not suitable for farming or environmentally sensitive.
Soil and Water Management
Irrigated potato and special crop production can be intensive but there are many ways we try to build healthier soils and protect our water sources.
Slow release fertilizers like ESN and Crystal Green are used to match nutrient release with crop uptake. Fertigation also allows us to apply only what the crop needs and at the right time.
Variable Rate Irrigation (VRI) has become important to conserve water and improve quality on our farm. We also variable rate our fertilizer to reduce waste and potential for leaching while maintaining our yield goals.
In our rotational crops, we zero-till everything we can to improve organic matter in our soils and prevent erosion. The use of rye as a cover crop following potato harvest and straw spreading are tools we employ to keep our land stable.
Bed planting is a system of potato production that we use on most of our seed acres. This removes the need to hill potatoes after planting, conserving moisture and preventing blowing due to finely worked soils. Row closure is achieved much quicker with 26” rows and the risk of wind erosion is further reduced. Water infiltration is improved because of the low soil disturbance and thus reduces water erosion as well. Bed planting also reduces water consumption by 10% and improves nutrient use efficiency.
The farm has participated in several projects to help preserve our natural spaces.
Surrounding our main farm is 200 acres of natural bush along the Cypress River without pasture, creating an important riparian zone. We also have a wetland project near Swan Lake with Ducks Unlimited that built nesting areas for waterfowl. Out-of-use gravel pits have been filled in and planted to trees and eroded water-ways are filled and planted to grass in partnership with our local Conservation Districts.