Spudman May/June 2023 - 25
Farm sustainability is more than a drop in a bucket
Nemeth, leader of PSA's water
potato growers are
challenged to soak
up every drop of this
Today, access to
the quantity and
quality of water
needed to produce
a profitable crop
isn't as direct as it
used to be for many
North American farms.
Maximizing moisture is vital to sustainable
potato production, and responsible water
stewardship practices support economic and
environmental goals - on and off the farm.
Benefits range from making data-driven
decisions gleaned from irrigation technology
to understanding the positive impact that
improving infiltration and reducing runoff can
have on the local watershed.
" The two biggest inputs needed to grow
a crop are water and nutrients, " said Mike
Nemeth, senior advisor, agricultural and
environmental sustainability at Nutrien.
" Potatoes are an integral crop and especially
reliant on those inputs. As an industry, we
have a responsibility to not only make sure
we're growing them in a sustainable manner
but also tell the story that includes the entire
value chain perspective of how it's being
done, starting on the farm. "
Not every grower, input supplier,
processor or buyer has the same experience
or objectives when it comes to water
management. But Nemeth said effective water
stewardship is grounded in good agronomy,
while communication and collaboration can
identify and achieve common goals.
Both are priorities for the Potato
Sustainability Alliance and a long-term
commitment to being a trusted water
stewardship resource for industry
stakeholders. The organization's multiphase
initiative will help partners in potato
production understand how, when and why to
implement stewardship practices that align
with and advance their sustainability goals.
sustainability working group, supports a
localized approach to improving awareness
and adoption of management practices that
support water stewardship. To help growers
define their specific water management
objectives, the PSA plans to work within ag
communities to assess regional water risks,
benchmark progress and correlate outcomes
to broader efforts within the local watershed.
" Everyone has a different level of interest
in water stewardship, so we want to have
an approach that can provide a value
proposition for water stewardship activity
in the Pacific Northwest or in the Canadian
Prairie Provinces, " Nemeth said. " Our goal is
to identify drivers and opportunities for water
stewardship in a particular area, then help
with regionally appropriate tools, models or
metrics to help best address shared water
challenges and have the most local impact. "
While the PSA's water stewardship initiative
will be farmer-focused, Nemeth said its
structure will be flexible and simple because
the benefits of smarter water management
extend beyond potato production. Producers
tend to grow more than just potatoes, with
grains, oilseeds, legumes or other crops
often part of their crop rotation.
" If a potato farmer in a water-stressed area
also grows oats or sugar beets, maybe the
companies sourcing those commodities will be
interested in and engage in collective action
in that watershed. So you can have the full
ag sector in that area engaged from a water
perspective, " Nemeth said. " Understanding
and overcoming challenges tied to water
quality or availability is important for anyone
sourcing any ag commodity from fields. "
John Mesko draws from an extensive
and diverse agriculture background and
provides expertise to farmers implementing
sustainable farming practices.
Irrigation technology pivoting
into precise decision-making
management is a gradual
process, with growers
gravitating toward the
practices that align with
their current operational
needs and future goals.
Incremental adoption often
allows farms to extrapolate
broad economic and
With more than 400
Threemile Canyon Farms in Boardman, Oregon.
Photo: Threemile Canyon Farms.
center-pivot irrigation systems covering 40,000 acres, progressive water
management is essential to the sustainability of Threemile Canyon Farms
in Boardman, Oregon. A progressive investment in irrigation technology -
including analysis of historical and current weather information - guides precise
water management decisions down to the individual sprinkler heads.
Soil sampling data and moisture probes allow farm irrigation managers to
customize water and nutrient applications by crop circle. And the addition
of pumping automation controls has contributed to 666,000 fewer kilowatt
hours of power used to operate the pivots.
Learn more about how sustainability practices contribute to the success of
Threemile Canyon Farms and other progressive potato operations in PSA's
grower profile series at potatosustainabilty.org.
Spudman May/June 2023
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Spudman May/June 2023
Table of Contents
Connecting the dots
Potatoes USA: Where do chips and fries fit?
National Potato Council: Setting sights on Japan
Idaho Potato Commission: Positive impacts
Potato Sustainability Alliance: Water stewardship
Spudman May/June 2023 - 1
Spudman May/June 2023 - 2
Spudman May/June 2023 - 3
Spudman May/June 2023 - Editor's Letter
Spudman May/June 2023 - 5
Spudman May/June 2023 - Table of Contents
Spudman May/June 2023 - 7
Spudman May/June 2023 - Heartland farms
Spudman May/June 2023 - 9
Spudman May/June 2023 - 10
Spudman May/June 2023 - 11
Spudman May/June 2023 - Growing uncertainty
Spudman May/June 2023 - 13
Spudman May/June 2023 - 14
Spudman May/June 2023 - 15
Spudman May/June 2023 - Connecting the dots
Spudman May/June 2023 - 17
Spudman May/June 2023 - 18
Spudman May/June 2023 - 19
Spudman May/June 2023 - 20
Spudman May/June 2023 - 21
Spudman May/June 2023 - Potatoes USA: Where do chips and fries fit?
Spudman May/June 2023 - National Potato Council: Setting sights on Japan
Spudman May/June 2023 - Idaho Potato Commission: Positive impacts
Spudman May/June 2023 - Potato Sustainability Alliance: Water stewardship
Spudman May/June 2023 - Advertiser Index
Spudman May/June 2023 - 27
Spudman May/June 2023 - 28