For that reason, ecologists and conservation groups are taking a new look at privately-owned lands as starting points for major conservation efforts.
Determining the Sustainability of Practices used by Potato Growers in 2013
The Wisconsin potato industry is being proactive in documenting the sustainability of their growers while ensuring grower engagement in the process. Working through the Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association (WPVGA), in partnership with the National Initiative for Sustainable Agriculture (NISA), the industry has assessed the sustainability of the practices currently used on potato farms throughout the state.
The assessment used an entry-level NISA approach to generate maximum grower engagement in the sustainability arena. Seventy-one growers returned assessments representing 56,785 acres of potatoes (90% of the total Wisconsin acreage).
Growers from the fresh (20,400 acres), chip (17,900 acres), frozen (10,400 acres), and seed markets (7,400 acres) participated in the assessment to provide an accurate representation of the industry as a whole. This assessment represented over 200,000 total farmland acres, with the farms being active for an average of over 53 years. All results were received from family-owned farms, with an average of 2-3 generations actively working and involved in the farming operations.
Ensuring Grower Involvement:
The current industry-wide assessment expands grower engagement in sustainability to all segments of potato production in Wisconsin by providing a base-tier assessment that involves a broad spectrum of growers. This base-tier assessment compliments Wisconsin’s existing Healthy Grown® assessment which is a mid-tier, market-based standard. The advancements highlighted on the following page clearly demonstrate how Wisconsin potato growers are pushing the envelope in sustainability, and will continue to improve!
Wisconsin potato growers are committed to advancements along the sustainability continuum. Each year, they allocate a portion of their potato sales to support short and long-term research at the University of Wisconsin and beyond.
The WPVGA and NISA will re-assess the industry every few years to show continued advancements and implementation of new and cutting-edge practices.
“We have to realize that farms do more than simply provide produce — they can provide clean ground water, biological diversity, carbon accumulation, healthy soil and improved natural lands and homes for myriad species,” notes Jeb Barzen, International Crane Foundation Director of Field Ecology. “Farmers have a strong land ethic — but they don’t necessarily have the resources or tools needed to care for the land as much as they, or we, might wish. Conservationists and farmers have great opportunities to collaborate and solve most environmental problems that society faces worldwide, and through collaboration we can implement many conservation activities.”