Since 1974, we have taken a responsible approach to the Stewardship of the Land here at Mountain Orchards. Agricultural sustainability is an expression heard often these days and has helped shape our approach to the safe and environmentally sound production of our crops. Fortunately we have a lot more tools in our belt these days than we did 40 years ago.
At Mountain Orchards we practice an approach called “Integrated Pest Management’ which aims to minimize the adverse effects of pesticides and still maintain a healthy crop. We monitor the orchard continuously – 24/7 from mid-April to mid-October with a weather station, a leaf wetness recorder, and soil moisture recording equipment to determine whether an apple scab infection period has occurred or not and with insect pheromone traps to determine if our target pests have reached a certain threshold. With this information we can make intelligent decisions on whether to spray or not as well as where and when. This approach has eliminated unnecessary actions and inappropriate timing and has allowed us to reduce our spraying by 40-50% over conventional practices and to better use our water resources in a sustainable manner.
Besides our own health, we also recognize the importance of the health of the many beneficial organisms (honeybees, predators, parasites, earthworms) present in the orchard that work on our behalf to keep down the pest population. The control products available today are not the broad spectrum insecticides of the past and are more specific in targeting the problem pests without harming the beneficials.
Most of the required spraying is done early in the season while the apples are very small and the sprayer is tucked away well before the picking season starts.
Farming practices have certainly changed since I graduated from Guelph University in Agricultural Science. But one thing that has not changed is our abiding belief that we are Stewards of the Land for the future generations that follow us.
This farm has been here for a lot longer than we have. It will be here long after we pass.
We are responsible to make sure it thrives and stays safe for many to enjoy.
– Phil Lyall, BSc. Agr., OMOAT
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