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Assessing the Sustainability of your Farm Sustainable Small Acreage Farming and Ranching Cinda Williams, UI Extension 2005.

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Presentation on theme: "Assessing the Sustainability of your Farm Sustainable Small Acreage Farming and Ranching Cinda Williams, UI Extension 2005."— Presentation transcript:

1 Assessing the Sustainability of your Farm Sustainable Small Acreage Farming and Ranching Cinda Williams, UI Extension 2005

2 Sustainability Criteria  Based on practices, not long term –The Food Alliance –ATTRA Beef Sustainability Check Sheet

3 The Food Alliance  Portland, Oregon  Evaluation Criteria for application to be farmer members of TFA.  Originally set up for fruit and vegetables growers, has expanded to include livestock and direct seeded crops (wheat, etc.)

4 TFA: Evaluation Criteria for Direct-Seeded Cropping Systems in the Pacific Northwest Farm Planning Disease/Nematodes Soil/Water Conservation Weeds Cultural Practices Vertebrate Pests Crop Nutrition Weather/Crop Monitoring Pesticide Applications Continuing Education Insects/Mites Human Resources Checklist

5 Cultural Practices Site preparation Seed selection Rotation Seedbed preparation Crop selection Seeding rates Green bridge Harvest Residue Management Storage

6 Crop Rotation Level 1 - direct-seed fields are not rotated Level 2 - direct-seeded fields are in two-crop rotation with a fallow period Level 3 - Direct seeded crops are in a three-crop rotation, moisture permitting, with at least two of three crops direct seeded. Level 4 - As per level 3, and rotations do not include a chemical fallow. All crops in rotation are direct seeded.

7 Weed Management - Wild Oats Level 1 - Herbicides are applied on a routine basis. Level 2 - Manager can identify Wild Oats, fields are monitored, treated only if thresholds are exceeded and all treatments are accurately timed for maximum effectiveness.

8 Level 3 - As per level 2, and cultural controls are also used. If Wild Oat infestations become severe, field harvested for hay or used for forage. Level 4 - Cultural controls as per level 3, and if herbicides are needed, apply only those with Caution label. Weed Management - Wild Oats

9 How the TFA assessment system works Combination of practices provide the relative sustainability index for the farming operation. Requires a minimum of 70% of points to be eligible. Also a human resource questionnaire - focuses on the labor, farm safety, community involvement, and goals and vision for the future.

10 National sustainable farming information center ATTRA provides technical assistance to farmers, Extension agents, market gardeners, agricultural researchers, and other ag professionals in all 50 states. Http://

11 ATTRA’s Beef Farm Sustainability Checksheet Designed to stimulate critical thinking in planning a beef cattle operation. Revolves around farm management, use of resources and quality of life. Used to assess operations’ strengths and weaknesses.

12 Categories for ATTRA checksheet I. Inventory of Farm Resources and Management II. Cattle and Forage Program A. Herd Health and reproductive management B. Breeding, genetics and selection program C. Nutrition Management

13 IV. Farm Goals III. Farm Management A. Records B. Farm Planning C. Marketing V. Assessment of Individual Pastures VI. Assessment of Soils VII. Assessment of Watershed (Categories for ATTRA checksheet, continued)

14 How does the checksheet work? Worksheets are meant to be worked on with an extension educator or technical advisor who can coach the producer through the questions.

15 Example - Farm Goals As you consider the goals of your farming operation, are you: 1) Examining your livestock production program, to make it more cost effective? 2) Assessing the soil, plant, and water resources? 3) Analyzing your marketing program and the diversity of products available? 4) Evaluating your quality of life from a family and community perspective?

16 Example - Soils Assessment 1) Do you have considerable variation of productivity level and nutrient level within pastures? 2) Would a change in fencing allow better use of pastures based on the productivity of the soils? 3) Are any of your erosion problems due to a lack of water flow control, lack of adequate cover or lack of infiltration?

17 Example - Watershed Assessment 1) Do you have buffer zones adjacent to riparian areas? 3) Do you time your fertilizing or spreading of manure/compost to prevent runoff of nutrients? 2) Considering your whole farm as a watershed, do nutrients which contribute to poor water quality leave your farm?

18 Summary  There are criteria for sustainable practices  Each farm and cropping system has its own set of parameters and tools.  Based on a set of progressive steps towards a goal

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