Sustainable agriculture is a way of growing food in an ecologically and ethically responsible manner.
Organic farming can generally be classified as sustainable agriculture, however, organic products can also be produced on large industrial farms that are not always sustainable.
Some aspects that all of our fields share:
- Soil management: Both our Organic and Sustainable fields rotate their crops to maintain the nutrient quality of the soil. The nutrients taken from the soil by crops must be replaced using natural methods.
- Pesticides: Both our Organic and Sustainable farms may only use pre-approved chemicals on their crops that meet certain criteria. Yes, even Organic fields can sometimes have chemicals used on them.
- No genetic engineering: Our crops are not altered using genetic engineering, sewage slug or ionizing radiation. That means that both our organic foods and our sustainably grown foods are inherently free of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
The USDA defines sustainable farming as agriculture that:
- Enhances the natural resources upon which society lives.
- Efficiently uses resources by implementing natural controls and biocycles?
- Is economically viable.
- And enhances life for farmers and those eating the products.
Our sustainable certification is from the Food Alliance. It looks not only at what we use in the fields, but also our water conservation practices, our soil health, wildlife and biodiversity on the farm, employee well-being, and social responsibility. You can find more information on their website here: foodalliance.org.
Our practices include:
Soil Health: With each growing season, we use conservation tillage to reduce erosion. We also plant cover crops to return nitrogen to the soil and build organic matter. We even apply digestate from our biogas plant to our fields as it acts as an organic fertilizer and naturally increases microbial activity and builds overall soil health.
Water Conservation: We continue to improve our irrigation, using weather, soil moisture and evapotranspiration data to track water use and needs. We have implemented automation systems that allow us to access real-time data that automatically controls and schedules our irrigation based on the needs of each plant.
Wildlife Habitat and Biodiversity: We plant native species that attract pollinators like bumblebees and plant cover crops in the winter that keep the blue herons on the farm year-round. We have a thriving blue heron rookery or habitat on the farm.
Innovation: We were the first farm ever to be certified sustainable by the Food Alliance. We have always been early adopters of new technology. Stahlbush was the first farm in Oregon to use GPS technology and the first to build a biogas plant that generates electricity using agricultural by-product in North America.