Practicing Sustainable Agriculture
April 14, 2023

Practicing Sustainable Agriculture

A lot of the farmers in this river bottom earn their living from land their great-great-grandparents tilled proving that sustainable agriculture is nothing new. The media has taken the phrase, Sustainable Agriculture, and touted it like it was some special way to grow food. It really isn’t for people who love the land. But since the term is out there, I’ll show you how we practice Sustainable Agriculture at Royalty Pecan Farm.

I think it’s good that consumers of food (that would be everyone) know that the producers of food (that would be just a few of us) are environmentally responsible and the Sustainable Agriculture framework has provided ways to measure that. Here’s one; water.

Water is plentiful in our little neck of the woods. Over-producing the underground aquafer could jeopardize the drinking water supply for our great-great grandchildren hence the need for us to utilize the water we need for crop production in a sustainable way. That’s exactly what we do. Drip irrigation is the primary delivery method we use to irrigate our orchard during the hot summer. The supplemental water is delivered right to the root zone, fifteen inches below the surface, through plastic pipes; over 100 miles of it. The trees get to draw on the water right away and none of it is wasted through evaporation. That’s Sustainable Agriculture with respect to water management. Here’s another one.

orchard in the spring

Supplemental application of nutrients; fertilization. This river bottom flood plane is extremely fertile, but the trees use some nutrients more than others and those nutrients need to be re-supplied. We can add those nutrients to our irrigation water, that’s called fertigation….get it? Fertilization plus irrigation….fertigation.
We use less fertilizer in a season because it is delivered right to the root zone where the trees can use it immediately and none of it is lost to the air (volatilization). Plus, plants growing on the orchard floor can’t “steal” it. The trees get the full benefit. That’s Sustainable Agriculture with respect to plant nutrition.
Environmentally responsible. That’s us. Since pecans can live for 300 years our trees have another 250 years to go. And the way we farm now will have a positive impact on our great- great-great (whew)….great-grandchildren. I like that.