Sep 1, 2014
Home| Tools| Events| Blogs| Discussions Sign UpLogin

Conservation Certification

February 26, 2010
By: Darrell Smith, Farm Journal Conservation and Machinery Editor

By adopting more efficient engine technology, auto-guidance and conservation tillage, you're reducing your impact on the environment. Wouldn't it be great if that made customers prefer your products? Wouldn't it be even better if they opened their pocketbooks and rewarded you for it?

Carl Hays of San Luis Obispo, Calif., believes that will happen because of a conservation farming certification program he is devising for farmers, which will lead to conservation-branded products for consumers.

Hays' idea germinated when he was working for AutoFarm on GPS for tractors. "It made me wish consumers could understand how auto-guidance systems enable farmers to conserve fuel and be more ‘green,'” he says.

"New engine technology is accomplishing the same goal,” Hays continues. "So is conservation tillage.”

Browsing in grocery stores convinced Hays that consumers lacked environmentally conscious options. "Besides organics, what choice do we have for ‘green' produce?” he says. "Some consumers are turning away from organic food because of its high price. They need an option between organic and conventional. We need to reward farmers for going greener even if they are not completely organic.”

At California Polytechnic Institute in San Luis Obispo, Hays is devoting his graduate thesis to developing a conservation farming certification program. He is using two California farms for case studies—one focused on specialty crops and the other on commodity crops. He plans to launch his certifying agency, the Conservation Farming Institute, early this year.

How certification works. To certify a farm, Hays will visit the operation and verify that the farmers have incorporated technology, equipment and practices to use less energy than a conventional farm. The savings from each piece of equipment, technology or practice will be based on research by Hays at Cal Poly and research from other land-grant universities.

Hays is considering 15% energy savings as the minimum requirement for certification. That sounds modest, but it's a significant reduction in a state, such as California, where intensive tillage is the norm. "I want a realistic standard that growers can meet, so they will be encouraged to make changes to qualify for certification,” Hays explains.

In the future, Hays plans to take into account water and fertilizer savings, creating several tiers of conservation for which farmers can qualify.


A Farmer's Perspective 

Travis Fugitt, who volunteered for Carl Hays' case study because he already uses auto-guidance and conser-vation tillage, agrees that consumers want a choice between organic and conventional.

Previous 1 2 Next

See Comments

FEATURED IN: Farm Journal - Mid-February 2010

Log In or Sign Up to comment


No comments have been posted



Receive the latest news, information and commentary customized for you. Sign up to receive the AgWeb Daily eNewsletter today!.

Enter Zip Code below to view live local results:
The Home Page of Agriculture
© 2014 Farm Journal, Inc. All Rights Reserved|Web site design and development by|Site Map|Privacy Policy|Terms & Conditions