Advanced Pest Management
Beneficial organisms conserved, beneficial organisms released, Cultivation, Insect trapping, resistant varieties
- During crop growth period use mechanical weed control to provide a habitat for beneficial insects.
- We release and maintain Aphytis Melinus (predatory wasp) populations to control scale.
- We cultivate only once per year during the Fall to control pest populations and noxious weeds.
- The crop variety of mandarin that we have chosen is naturally resistant to fungal infection.
- We carefully monitor all growth factors to ensure the optimum health of our orchards in order keep the trees at optimum health. A healthy tree is naturally resistant to disease and pest attacks.
- Insect trapping is an important component of our Integrated Pest Management program. It provides us with early indications of possible infestation and level of threat to crops.
- We typically make our spray applications at night or early morning to avoid any harm to bees.
- We also coordinate and time our spray applications in a manner to avoid injury to our release of predatory wasps.
- We work closely with a licensed PCA and insectary to make decisions on the release of beneficial organisms and spray application timing.
- Because we are certified organic growers we have learned to use the few crop protection tools available to us very effectively.
- A laboratory compost analysis gives us the percentage of each nutrient contained in the compost. We can use these figures to calculate the amount of Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium in each ton of compost applied.
- With each passing harvest, we utilize yield records, tissue analyses and petiole analyses to gauge how much nitrogen was removed from the soil and used by the plant so that we replenish the soil with essential nutrient amounts.
- As a certified organic grower, we have learned to use the few crop protection tools available to us very effectively. And we apply these sprays at night to reduce our impact on bee activity.
Ecosystems and Biodiversity
- Only organic compost, cover crops or minerals are applied to the soil. The nitrogen level of these soil amendments is calculated and applied to meet the needs of our orchard crops as determined by lab analysis. These measured applications mitigate the possibility of leaching into the aquifer.
- Wind direction and strength is always considered when making any spray application for safety reasons as well as application efficiency.
- Good housekeeping procedures around well sites.
- Driveways and buffers around each orchard serve to protect neighboring crops and traffic from overspray residues. Additional monitors are stationed as necessary at crop borders to signal spray applicator when approaching traffic or other hazard.
- Fencing is used in high traffic areas as a barrier to casual attempts at entry by the public.
- Invasive plants are removed or cut down to reduce competition for water and nutrient resources.
- We have placed owl boxes in our fields to naturally control rodent populations.
- Commercially produced bumblebee hives are not used for open field pollination
- Diseases and parasites of managed bees are controlled when detected
- Managed honey bee hives are inspected for disease and parasites on a monthly basis
- Swarming bee colonies that move into any of our fields are immediately removed by the apiary and become a part of his hive inventory which he carefully monitors for diseases.
Air, Energy and Climate
- We use low-wattage, low pressure sodium lighting with daylight sensor switches for our exterior security lighting.
- Retrofitted pumps with electronic meters to ensure irrigation efficiency.
- Drip and fan jet irrigation applies water to the root zone of tree or vine.
We track and measure our farm’s fuel and oil consumption, and overall GHG emissions. This allows us to target areas of our farm operation where we can reduce our carbon footprint.
- We use no green manure, only certified organic compost which emits little or no odor.
- Cover crops are grown in young, non-fruiting orchards primarily to raise the level of organic material in the soil and also to fix legumes to increase nitrogen levels for the crop. Mowing and maintaining these cover crops provides an environment for beneficial insects and reduces dust and erosion.
- We replace our old large diesel tractors with modern low-emission, high efficiency diesel tractors.
- Tillage, cultivation and spraying operations are performed when wind conditions are appropriate.
- High traffic field avenues are paved or graveled.
- We live where we farm. Air quality is important to us. We take all measures necessary to ensure that our farming activities have a minimal negative impact to air quality.
We have recently begun measuring the GHG emissions in multiple areas of our operation, allowing us to identify the largest contributors of emissions on our farm. These results will be used to inform management decisions on reducing our environmental impact.
- Our drip irrigation system is low-flow and allows for localized irrigation in only the root zone of the tree.
- Flood irrigated parcels are laser leveled so that water does not pool up, but rather flows at a steady rate to the end of the furrow.
- When using groundwater, we use low-flow drip irrigation to conserve groundwater. When district water is available from snowmelt, we use what is available. When utilizing district water, we operate on a strict irrigation schedule, using only what is necessary to reach optimal tree health.
- Cover crops hold soil together and increase organic material in the soil.
- Mulches serve to suppress weeds in undesirable areas of the field.
- All of our fields are laser leveled prior to planting. This practice could be very beneficial in the unlikely event of extremely heavy rains.
- Soil erosion is low risk in our area because of the existing sandy loam soils and permanent orchard crops. We have implemented a no or low-till practice to allow existing cover crops or weeds to live throughout the summer as a home for beneficial insects and to keep the soil open. We control the size of the weeds and/or cover crop by mowing.
- Cover crops are used in our young non-fruiting orchards to add large amounts of organic material to the soil and to also fix nitrogen.
- Thriving vegetation on the orchard floor during cold weather causes the heat from the soil to radiate quickly thus causing temperatures to decrease to damaging crop freezing levels.
- Compost and fish emulsion used as fertilizer based on necessity given by laboratory plant tissue analyses.
- If soil or tissue analysis indicates a deficiency of a micro-nutrient we will use an organic nutrient spray which the plant will absorb through its leaves as well as its roots when the spray enters the soil.
- Record soil infiltration rate on a consistent schedule to monitor field saturation and irrigation scheduling.
- Monitor soil bulk density to promote tree root growth and ensure sufficient air and water movement through the soil. Maintaining a healthy soil bulk density is crucial to create a beneficial root growth environment, and it can be achieved naturally through limited soil compaction.
- Track soil nitrate levels using nitrate test strips to estimate the value of N concentration in a sample. Soil nitrate levels are seasonally monitored to promote plant strength and optimal crop yields.
- We take earthworm counts in cubic foot samples taken from several locations in fields. Earthworms bring several benefits to the soil, and they’re indicative of a favorable soil environment for both the crops and soil dwelling organisms.
- Observation of the nitrate levels, soil porosity, and soil aggregation in fields are all potential byproducts of a healthy earthworm population.
- Soil Aggregate stability measurements allow us to adjust soil cultivation, irrigation, and weed control practices accordingly to ensure proper water infiltration rates, reduce erosion, and encourage root growth.
- In addition, we take soil samples to evaluate the micronutrient deficiencies in our soils.
- All glass, aluminum and plastic bottles are recycled.
- Paper products are not use in fields.
- Farm waste removed according to EPA standards.
- Consumer packages are all plastic and recyclable.
- Our mandarins come in resealable plastic bags, perfect for consumer reuse.
- Shipping packaging is all non-paraffin coated card board or corrugated paper which is both biodegradable and recyclable.