Opa & Opma
Over the generations, our family lived on the farm knowing that farming means everything to us:
- A good way of life
- Making a living, while providing quality food for others
- A secure home & sanctuary
- Abundant clean air, water and soil in the wide-open spaces away from the city
Our elders taught us to respect the land and “Leave it in better condition than we found it”. We take this responsibility seriously.
So How Do We...
"Leave It Better"
Today, we believe the answer is modifying the way we manage our trees and embracing Regenerative (“Sustainable”) Agricultural practices. In order to:
- Remain competitive & profitable
- Rebuild soil health
- Manage a sustainable farming operation
- Satisfy customer concerns about the environment
- Grow healthier, and more natural crops
The Sustainable Agriculture Revolution
What is Sustainable Agriculture?
According to U.S. Code under Title 7, 2011, "Sustainable Agriculture" is an integrated system of plant and animal production practices having a site-specific application that will, over the long-term—
- Satisfy human food and fiber needs;
- Enhance environmental quality and the natural resource base upon which the agriculture economy depends;
- Make the most efficient use of nonrenewable resources and on-farm resources and integrate, where appropriate, natural biological cycles and controls;
- Sustain the economic viability of farm operations; and
- Enhance the quality of life for farmers and society as a whole.
Regenerative Agriculture has six key components:
- Keep the soil surface covered
- Do not disturb the soil
- Promote biodiversity
- Keep living roots in the soil
- Bring grazing animals back to the land
- Know your context and choose the management practices that fit your orchard goals
The Benefits of
- Healthier and more natural crops
Reduced use of pesticides and fertilizers
- Significant reduction in energy use per unit of crop yield in comparison to industrialized agriculture
- Improves farm profitability and contribution to local economies
- Happy customers!
Our goals For
- Manage water & prevent erosion
- Reduce fertilizer & pesticide use
- Build healthy soil
- Promote biodiversity
- Store carbon in our orchards
- Improve extreme weather resilience
- Sustain the farm economically
- Treat workers fairly
- Conduct soil health research
1. Manage Water & Prevent Erosion
Water is critical to all aspects of pecan farming. Pecans require 2 inches of rain per week. We supplement natural rainfall with controlled irrigation. Our water usage is managed aggressively.
- Calibrated micro-sprinklers accurately deliver water to reduce waste and runoff
- Leaks and broken pipe are fixed timely
- Runoff and erosion are controlled with contouring
- Water is placed to maximize absorption and minimize runoff
- Metered use is reported to water agencies & authorities
2. Reducing Fertilizer & Pesticide Use
Limiting Pesticides, Fungicides & Herbicides
Reducing Chemical Usage
We strive to reduce the volume of chemicals we use:
- Integrated Pest Management (IPM) to spray pesticides & fungicides
- Spray only when necessary Pheromone traps to confirm undesirable insect activity
- Apply only targeted formulations that spare good insects
- Lady Bugs and Lace Wings happily go about their job of controlling the bad insects even right after we spray
Bats Help Reduce Pesticide Usage
Bats consume a massive amount of insects and help us reduce the volume of pesticides needed to sustain our pecan crop.
- We draw on a nearby population of Brazilian free-tailed bats and other species
- New bat houses encourage more on-site population
- This is our 2nd year with bat houses and the bats are active in increased numbers
- Bat studies including DNA testing) are underway to map species and type of insect consumption (e.g. evening and free-tailed bats identified so far)
3. Building Healthy Soil
Our goal in soil management is to move away from heavy use of fertilizers and add micronutrients to improve the soil.
- Stop using 19-9-3 Ammonium Sulfate & replace with micronutrients
- Slow targeted release of N, P, K, L-amino acids, Humic and Fulvic Acid, Zinc, Boron, Copper, Iron, Manganese, Moly
- Promotes micro-organism growth and soil health
- Provides efficient potassium, calcium, phosphorous and sulfur nutrition
- Enhances nitrogen metabolism
- Reduces runoff of N and P into the environment
Healthier Soil With
We use mulching to help protect and improve our soil's health.
- Recycle pruning's and tree material instead of burning
- Spread on entire orchard floor to provide soil cover
- Decomposition provides nutrients for soil organisms
Carbon capture the pecan farmer’s way!!
4. Improving Biodiversity
Ground cover helps us maintain strong and healthy roots.
- Eliminates herbicides
- Keeps soil covered and maintains living roots in the ground year-round
- Lower soil temperatures slows water loss
- Builds soil health by preventing erosion
- Replenishes soil nutrients
- Keeps undesirable weeds in check
- Provides a “trap crop” that aids in pest control
- Elimate herbicides
- Less intensively cultivated within the orchard
- Natural vegetation in tree rows helps control erosion, reduces nutrient runoff, and supports bees, other pollinators
- Weeds provide soil cover and soil nutrition
- Weeds pull nutrients from deeper in the soil
- Weed diversity provides habitat and food for soil microbes
- Winter weeds work when tree leaves are gone and yet not interfere with summer crops
8. Treating Our Workers Fairly
Our staff is a critical part of our sustainability plan. All of us are knowledgeable on our farming and Regen Ag processes and our individual equipment responsibilities. We treat them as family and celebrate their support and commitment to the farm.
- Chris Simons – Forman
- Guadalupe (Lupe) Gomez - cleaning plant and equipment operator
- Pat Hell – Pecan Store Mgr.
Join us in thanking them when you visit us.
9. Conducting Soil Health Research
- How well are we doing?
- What’s changing?
- How are changes affecting our trees and crop?
- Are the changes helping or hindering sustainable ag goals?
- Participating in 6-year Soil Health research studies conducted by Noble Research Institute, Ardmore, OK
Includes 32 orchards in TX and OK across the management type spectrum
- Collect and analyze soil, leaf and nut samples
- Determine bat species and insect diets (DNA testing)
- App-based scorecards to evaluate management strategies and system impacts
- We use the Haney and PLFA Tests to help us determine our soil's health.
- Soil, leaf and water samples to determine tree & soil health
- Samples are collected throughout the orchard
- Seasonal sampling (spring and fall)
Use comprehensive soil & leaf health tests – “Haney” and “PLFA” tests
- Soil health and N – H2O extraction
- Soil nutrient composition and Soil Health Score -(Haney)
- Microbial community structure - phospholipid fatty acid (PLFA) analysis
- Microbial functional composition (DNA sequencing)
6. Sustain the Farm Economically
Reducing Farm Costs
Controlling costs in an environment plagued with high inflation and supply issues is critical to the success of the small farmer. Sustainable Agricultural techniques offer hope in controlling costs by reducing the costs of chemicals, managing water usage and improve crop yields.
- Increasing rapidly
- About $2,000/ac in 2022
- Chemicals, fertilizer, labor and repairs are large
- Chemicals and fertilizer are about $350-$400/ac