Opinion: Part Of Being Sustainable Is To Be Transparent With Consumers

Rosemary GordonWhen the term “sustainability” became a part of everyday conversations, many of the growers I talked to provided specifics on what they were doing to be “sustainable” — whether it was using new technology, choosing varieties that better withstand environmental stressors, etc.

A few years ago, I visited the Michigan operation of a large potato grower, Black Gold Farms, and sustainability was one of the main topics discussed. The farm’s CEO Gregg Halverson told me that in order to be sustainable, crop protectants, fertilizers, etc. — which are necessary components to farming operations — must be used in ways that communicate to consumers that growers are being good stewards of the land.

Why? Because more and more consumers want to know that the food they purchase is safe and was produced in an environmentally friendly way.

So if you are conducting experiments to determine how to use less water by using more efficient delivery methods, implementing practices to increase efficiencies, or doing something else entirely, tell your story. Become transparent.

Sustainability is about preserving a livelihood. Recently I was speaking with a grower in Florida who also is striving to become more sustainable and is looking at ways to reduce crop inputs. Growers tackling this effort need to determine a viable course of action to cut costs while ensuring customers continue to receive a superior product. To achieve the desired outcome, that means conducting numerous trials using various products to figure out which ones will provide the necessary results.

Growers striving to be sustainable also must stay on top of the latest technology. For example, the Strawberry Advisory System (SAS) at the University of Florida was developed to help reduce yield losses as a result of weather-related fungal disease pressure. Instead of using the calendar to determine when to spray, the web-based SAS uses the duration of leaf wetness and temperatures during the wetness period in the field to predict conditions that would contribute to the spread of disease. In essence, the technology can help reduce crop losses and fungicide use, both efforts in sustainability.

What story do you need to tell? How are you being transparent with consumers? Send me an email or tweet and tell me about your efforts. Who knows, you may be on to something that may be critical to the future of sustainable vegetable production.

Topics:

Leave a Reply

Farm Management Stories
Jones Potato Farm field in Parrish, FL
Citrus
April 27, 2016
Meet Florida’s New Crop Of Agricultural Environmental Leaders
Annual award program recognizes farmers practicing environmentally innovative techniques. Read More
The workers at Hollabaugh Bros., Inc. Fruit Farms & Market in Biglerville, PA take a well-deserved break. (Photo credit: Bruce Hollabaugh)
Fruits
April 27, 2016
Common Sense On Immigration [Opinion: One Grower’s Take]
We need a guest worker program if we’re going to feed America and ensure our national security. Read More
Workers at McManis Family Vineyards in Ripon, CA. (Photo credit: David Eddy)
Fruits
April 26, 2016
New Study Finds Traditional Migrant Workers Older, Female, Settling Down
Ball State University research shows many of the agricultural migrant workers of the past just aren’t migrating any more. Read More
Cherry Harvest
Citrus
April 26, 2016
Farm Bureau Says Labor Visa Backlogs Threaten 2016 Crops
Agency calls for swifter processing of paperwork so growers' requests for crews can be met. Read More
Funded by the National Watermelon Promotion Board, the video was produced in support of the rock and roll nutrition show, Jump With Jill.
Cucurbits
April 23, 2016
Award-Winning Interactive Music Video Promotes Nutrition Outside The Classroom
Funded by the National Watermelon Promotion Board, the video was produced in support of the rock and roll nutrition show, Jump With Jill. Read More
fist punching through a wall
Food Safety
April 21, 2016
It’s Your Duty To Challenge The ‘Dirty Dozen’ List [Opinion]
The Environmental Working Group is at it again, making it critical for growers to keep customers informed about production practices and the safety of produce. Read More
These employees and/or labor contractors at McManis Family Vineyards represent nearly 70 years of experience.  (Photo credit: David Eddy)
Grapes
April 21, 2016
McManis Family Vineyards: Treating Employees Like Family
It’s no coincidence that more than half the full-time vineyard workers at McManis Family Vineyards have been with the company for 20-plus years. Read More
The Latest
Citrus
April 27, 2016
Meet Florida’s New Crop Of Agricultural …
Annual award program recognizes farmers practicing environmentally innovative techniques. Read More
Farm Management
April 19, 2016
Food Safety Training Grants Available
USDA announces $4.7 million available in grants for food safety training, outreach, and technical assistance. Read More
Citrus
April 18, 2016
Field Tour Provides Reality Check For Fl…
Annual event allows representatives of federal and state agencies to get an up-close look at Florida agriculture. Read More
Citrus
April 14, 2016
Forecast: Brace For Average Atlantic Hur…
Exiting El Niño setting stage for return to normal storm activity in the tropics. Read More
Citrus
April 13, 2016
Regarding Alma Mater Matters, It’s…
You don’t necessarily have to wear your competitive edges on your sleeve to succeed, but without a passion and drive for improvement, what’s the point? Read More
Farm Management
April 9, 2016
USDA Funds Available To Growers To Devel…
USDA seeks applications for grants to help agricultural producers increase the value of their products. Read More
Farm Management
April 8, 2016
Western Growers’ Center For Innova…
The Western Growers Association sets up a Silicon Valley-like innovation hub — in the heart of farmland. Read More
Farm Management
April 7, 2016
USDA Launches First-Ever Local Foods Sur…
The study will provide new data on locally grown and sold foods. Read More
Crop Protection
April 7, 2016
6 Steps To Increase Efficiencies On The …
Embracing industry changes, New York’s Turek Farms looks to find better ways to get the job done. Read More
Farm Management
April 5, 2016
USDA Announces $90 Million-Plus To Suppo…
Interested applicants should apply directly through their state departments of agriculture, which administer a competitive grant process. Read More
Citrus
April 4, 2016
Dry Season Conditions Finally Arrive For…
March rainfall mostly below average around region, breaking string of historically wet weather. Read More
Farm Management
April 2, 2016
NPC To Offer Scholarship For Graduate St…
Selection is based on academic achievement, leadership ability, potato-related areas of graduate study, and extracurricular activities. Read More
Farm Management
March 28, 2016
Pennsylvania Extension Faces Mayday [Opi…
If the state’s officials can’t come to an agreement, more than one thousand aggies will be laid off May 1. Read More
Citrus
March 25, 2016
Crisis Management 101: How To Apologize …
Saying 'I'm sorry' during a crisis situation may not be easy. But in the long run, it can make a significant difference in how your company’s brand and reputation weather a storm. Read More
Farm Management
March 23, 2016
Vegetable Surfaces’ Microscopic St…
University of Illinois researchers studied the ability of pathogenic viruses to adhere to fresh produce surfaces. Read More
Citrus
March 22, 2016
New King Crowned In World’s Top Ag…
Annual report grades more than 200 schools worldwide based on academic reputation, employer reputation, and research impact. Read More
Citrus
March 21, 2016
Cuba: Challenge Or Opportunity For Flori…
The prospects of normalized trade with the island nation could shake up the Sunshine State's farming sector. Read More
Farm Management
March 21, 2016
$62 Million In Grants Available For Spec…
Agricultural Marketing Service funds will be allocated to states for research, increasing opportunities, protecting pollinators, organics, and new and beginning farmers. Read More
[gravityform id="62" title="false" description="false"]