October 18, 2013

CDFA Database Highlights Growers’ Use Of Conservation Practices

As the clock ticks closer to Thanksgiving, it’s a popular time to recognize farmers for the fruits, vegetables, meats, grains and dairy products they produce throughout the year, according to the American Farmland Trust. However, it is also important for the public to understand the significant environmental benefits farmers also produce by using conservation practices on their land. These practices help protect water quality in streams and lakes, provide vital wildlife habitat, and contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

To highlight both the environmental and economic benefits of implementing these conservation practices on California farms, the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) recently compiled an interactive database of the many ecosystem services—defined by the CDFA Environmental Farming Act Science Advisory Panel as “the multiple benefits we gain from farming and ranching”—currently being produced by California farmers and ranchers.

The new database provides detailed information on nearly 400 farms implementing conservation practices across the state. The database can be sorted by keyword, county, crop type, and ecosystem services provided (such as pest control and nutrient management).

The database “is a fantastic tool for farmers looking for information on a variety of conservation practices,” explains American Farmland Trust’s Environmental Consultant, Steve Shaffer. “Examples of everything from efficient irrigation practices to building soil fertility are now at farmers’ fingertips with this database.”

In addition, American Farmland Trust is working in California to increase the adoption of Beneficial Management Practices (BMPs) that yield the ecosystem services profiled in the CDFA database. We work closely with CDFA, the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), and farm and ranch organizations across the state to promote BMPs that meet the “triple bottom line” of farm profitability, environmental sustainability, and community responsibility.

American Farmland Trust’s recent work includes:
  • Ag Vision Stewardship Case Studies that compliment the CDFA database by providing a more in-depth look at the environmentally-beneficial agricultural practices being used by California family farmers and ranchers. 
  • BMP Challenge to adopt conservation practices on California farms through our yield guarantee program.
  • Published report with recommendations for increasing the use of improved irrigation and nutrient management practices among California’s many specialty crop farmers.
  • Conservation Practices Resource Guide for growers who want to learn more about NRCS conservation practices. 
Stewardship Index for Specialty Crops (SISC):  member. SISC released its first suite of working metrics that provides a system for measuring sustainable performance throughout the specialty crop supply chain, including farms growing fruits, nuts, and vegetable crops.

Source: American Farmland Trust

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