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Focusing on Stewardship for Long-term Sustainability Developed by: Cinda Williams, University of Idaho Extension Kevin Laughlin, University of Idaho Extension.

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Presentation on theme: "Focusing on Stewardship for Long-term Sustainability Developed by: Cinda Williams, University of Idaho Extension Kevin Laughlin, University of Idaho Extension."— Presentation transcript:

1 Focusing on Stewardship for Long-term Sustainability Developed by: Cinda Williams, University of Idaho Extension Kevin Laughlin, University of Idaho Extension Susan Donaldson, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension Univ. of Idaho Extension

2 6/26/20152 Topics to be covered:  The whole-property concept  Integrating the lessons you’ve learned  Viewing your property through a sustainability lens  How others are making it work  Monitoring and assessing progress  How you’re making it work

3 6/26/20153 What is “sustainability”?  According to the U.S. EPA, sustainability means “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

4 What about sustainable agriculture?  According to SARE, sustainable agriculture involves farming systems that are profitable, environmentally sound and good for people and communities.  They must be: –Economically sustainable –Environmentally sustainable –Socially sustainable USDA NRCS

5 6/26/20155 So you want to be a steward of your land? Steward: a person who manages another's property or financial affairs Environmental stewardship: the responsibility to take care of our natural resources to ensure they are sustainably managed for current and future generations

6 What does it mean to be a steward of a small-acreage property? “The practice of carefully managing land usage to ensure natural systems are maintained or enhanced for future generations.” -The Land Stewardship Center USDA NRCS

7 6/26/20157 Guiding principles of land stewardship  Caring for the system as a whole  Conserving resources  Maintaining, building and enhancing stability in nature  Honoring cultural values and ethics

8 6/26/20158 Putting it all together with a whole-property perspective Use what you’ve learned about:  Inventory and goals  Soils  Water  Wildfire threat reduction  Plants  Animals  Enterprises

9 The whole-farm or whole-property view Redrawn by A. Miller from

10 Applying a “systems” approach  System: a group of interacting, interdependent elements that function together as a complex unified whole

11 National Center for Atmospheric Research

12 Whole-farm nutrient balance

13 An alternate view of the whole-farm nutrient balance Losses or soil storage Managed outputs Meat and milk Crops ManureInputs Feed Animals Irrigation water Fertilizer Legume N Feed Manure Livestock and Poultry Environmental Stweardship Farm boundary

14 6/26/201514 Applying systems thinking to your property  What are the components of your system?  How are they interrelated?  How does an action on one component affect other parts of your system?

15 Systems diagram activity

16 6/26/201516 A systems thinker:  Seeks to understand the big picture  Observes how elements within systems change over time, generating patterns and trends

17 6/26/201517 Being a systems thinker  Identifies the circular nature of complex cause- and-effect relationships, i.e. interdependencies  Changes perspectives

18 Developing your goals with sustainability in mind  Environmental concerns  Economic factors  Social issues

19 Putting sustainable goals into action Soils Short-term ActionsLong-term Goals 1.Do a soil test for nutrients, organic matter content, etc. 2.Plant cover crops and till in as green manure Outcome: Improved soil quality

20 Putting sustainable goals into action Plants Short-term ActionsLong-term Goals 1.Assess existing vegetation 2.Improve grass mixture 3.Implement rotational grazing Outcome: Healthy pastures and healthy animals

21 Putting sustainable goals into action Business Short-term ActionsLong-term Goals 1.Research and identify a feasible niche market 2.Develop a business plan Outcome: Make a profit from your small-acreage enterprise

22 Make your own goals! Short-term ActionsLong-term Goals

23 The living soil  How do the practices we employ on our land influence the soil? USDA NRCS

24 6/26/201524 Improving soil quality  Work on the basics of high-quality soils –Reduce tillage –Add organic matter (plant cover crops) –Reduce applications of synthetic-based chemicals

25 6/26/201525 Assess your soil quality  Monitor for: Earthworms Organic matter color, roots and residues Subsurface compaction Soil tilth Erosion Water-holding capacity Drainage and infiltration Crop condition pH Nutrient-holding capacity

26 Protecting our water  Water quantity –Reduce unnecessary water loss by covering soil (cover crops, mulch, etc.) –Increase water-use efficiency by proper irrigation  Water quality –Prevent runoff of soil into water bodies –Prevent contamination by livestock by installing buffers or providing off-stream watering USDA NRCS energyfarms,.net USDA NRCS

27 6/26/201527 What are you doing to conserve water?  For your crops or pasture?  For your animals?  In your landscape?  In your home? NDEP

28 6/26/201528 Sustainable water use  Build well-structured soils that retain water  Design for infiltration of water, rather than runoff  Plant species that are drought- tolerant and disease-resistant  Capture, conserve and recycle water

29 Drought index

30 What about floods? The bright green color indicates flood warnings.

31 6/26/201531 How would drought or a flood affect you?  In the short term?  In the midterm (3 years)?  In the long term (5 years)?  What is your contingency plan?  What will you do differently?

32 Protecting and preserving your space Was wildfire part of your long-term plan? Make a plan for protecting and preserving your space

33 Managing plants for sustainability  Promote ecological balance with plant diversity  Maintain vegetative cover  Enhance or provide organic matter  Enhance nutrient recycling  Promote pest population balance through biological strategies

34 Raising healthy animals – a systems approach You can manage parts of the system to decrease internal parasites and their effects ATTRA Pasture rotation

35 6/26/201535 Managing energy use  Make use of renewable energy –Solar Pumps for watering and irrigation Greenhouses –Wind Electricity for buildings –Biofuels Oils or fuel from plants –Energy from animal waste (which is not a waste after all!) Methane digesters

36 6/26/201536 Creating successful enterprises  Choose your production system  Develop your niche –Your uniqueness is the key –Tell your story!  Value-added products  Connect to customers and the community  Understand the bottom line

37 Quality lives  For you and your family –Physical health: exposure and safety –Mental health: stress and depression  For employees –Fair treatment –Decent wages and living conditions  For animals –Humane treatment of animals –Low-stress handling USDA NRCS

38 6/26/201538 Vibrant communities  Links between the landowner or farmer and the community  Networking  Partnerships and collaboration  Lifelong learning

39 6/26/201539 Vibrant communities  What can you do? –Host public and school tours –Share what you’ve learned –Donate food to local food banks –Buy fresh and buy local –Join a co-op or support group What ideas do you have?

40 6/26/201540 How are others making it work?  Let’s focus on systems sustainability by looking at some examples of people who have made a difference in the sustainability of land, soil, water, plants, animals, etc.

41 The Mestre’s property, Nevada UNCE, Reno, Nev.

42 S. Mestre, Reno, Nev.

43 UNCE, Reno, Nev.

44 S. Mestre, Reno, Nev.


46 UNCE, Reno, Nev.


48 S. Mestre, Reno, Nev.



51 6/26/201551 Stewardship by the Mestres  Protecting ground and surface water resources  Conserving water  Stabilizing, amending, and covering soil to increase organic matter and moisture content and decrease erosion  Improved vegetative cover and better management of grassy areas

52 6/26/201552 Calypso Farm and Ecology Center Ester, Alaska Issues:  Difficult climate – long winters, short extreme summers with long days  Poor soils – not very fertile, permafrost only a few inches below the surface

53 6/26/201553 Goals  Establish an organic vegetable, herb and flower operation  Use it as a method to educate others about environmental issues and homegrown food

54 6/26/201554 The enterprise  CSA with a 16- to 20-week season  Organic herbs, vegetables and cut flowers  Grown on 2.5 terraced acres amended with organic products including composted leaves, hay and manure, lawn clippings, etc.

55 Elements of sustainability  Majority of 30 acres are not disturbed and kept forested  Trees are used as lumber  Soil is kept covered and amended, so moisture retention is improved  Rainwater is collected from roofs and used to irrigate crops and for firefighter exercises  Local community is educated

56 6/26/201556 Fostering awareness in young people  Host field trips for schools  Encourage students to participate in the farm  Create school gardens

57 6/26/201557 Monitor and assess your progress  Before you took this class, how were you interacting with your resources?  What are you doing differently now?  What do you plan to do differently in the future?

58 6/26/201558 Monitor and assess your progress  What results do you want? How will you achieve your goals?  How will you know if you succeeded?  How are you making progress toward making your property more sustainable?

59 6/26/201559 Where can you continue to get help?  SARE –  ATTRA –  Educational organizations –Universities –Cooperative Extension –Community colleges –Nonprofits

60 6/26/201560 Where can you continue to get help?  Regulatory agencies –Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) –conservation districts –state forestry  Networks (local, state and regional)

61 6/26/201561 Where can you get funding?  State and private forestry  Stewardship incentive programs  USDA/NRCS incentive programs, such as Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP) and Conservation Reserve Program (CRP)  Water quality and watershed programs

62 6/26/201562 Summary  What do sustainability and stewardship mean to you?  How will you be a better steward?  How can you help your neighbors become better stewards?  How does systems thinking help you achieve your goals?

63 6/26/201563 Participant presentations

64 6/26/201564 How are YOU making it work?  How are you integrating what you’ve learned about your resources?  How have you affected your own property?  How have you affected your community?

65  Have your long-term goals changed? Why?  What do you hope to accomplish?  How will your property be more sustainable?  Are you a better steward? USDA NRCS

66 You’re on your way to a sustainable approach to managing all the resources on your small-acreage property! UNCE, Reno, NV

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