Blue Sky Blueberries Approach and Land Stewardship

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Below is a brief list of some of the practices we follow to encourage an ecological enhanced environment!

* Provide a diverse selection of native flowering plants to provide year round food sources for for bumble bees, Blue Orchard bees, and Osmia ribifloris.

* In cooperation with USDA/ARS, native bee rearing project, Osmia ribifloris, a specialized blueberry pollinating bee, as well as Bumble Bee box 

*Attempting to rear native Blue Orchard Bees (BOB), Osmia lignaria, and assess their adaptability to blueberry pollination.

* Every single plant was root dipped in a humic acid mixture containing 17 species of Endo and Ecto mycorrihzal fungi, which i believe made a huge positive impact on plant establishment   

* Continuous monitoring of air temperature, RH, and soil moisture for efficient irrigation applications

* Native cover crop between the rows.

*Purposely left open areas for native vegetation and wildlife.  

 

* Regulated water deficit irrigation based on ETo, water use measured by a precision water meter 

 

* IPM pest management approach and best management practices approach to all farming operations

* Specialized planting of wildflowers for attracting beneficial insects

* Certified organic materials applied for crop protection

* Physical and magnetic (non-chemical) water purification

* Off-set row direction (57 degrees NE/SW) to equalize light exposure and intensity on fruit

 

* Imported over 190 cubic yards per acre of compost during development, then apply approximately 40 yards per acre of mulch annually.

* No synthetic fertilizer applied to date; utilize natural nutritional recycling techniques

* Grass filter watershed for sediment control

* Occupied Barn Owl box and frequented Raptor perch for rodent control

* Duck platform for waterfowl protection

* Composed animal waste and unused hay from livestock for farming and landscape

* Strategic native tree propagation and placement for wind suppression and shading

* Strategically placed wood piles for reptile habitat and insect control

* Occupied bat house for insect control

* Stream bank stabilization using strategically placed vines, trees, and cobbles

* Annual release of 10,000 Green Lacewings (beneficial insect) for natural aphid and thrip control

* Annual release of Minute Pirate Bugs (benificial insect) for thrip biological control.

*On-going carbon sequestration and promotion of biodiversity throughout all farming operations

 

What is sustainable farming; Why is it important; What value does it add to the fruit?

 

Sustainable farming, according to the American Society of Agronomy; "A sustainable agriculture is one that, over the long term, enhances environmental quality, and the resource base on which agriculture depends; provides for basic human food and fiber needs; is economically viable; and enhances the quality of life for farmers and society as a whole."  

Sustainable farming is important because it restores and preserves resources for future generations.  Responsible land stewardship can improve soil health, water quality, habitat, and enhance (and even add) land resources for more longevity of life.

 

It improves quality by providing an organic and native ecosystem for the plant and symbiotic mechanisms.  This allows for natural development of sugars, flavors and self-derived disease resistence compounds (reducing or eliminating the dependence/use of synthetic chemicals).  The plant will thrive in a more favorable and/or native surrounding to yield a higher level of authentic qualities. 

A LITTLE ABOUT OUR CROP PROTECTION

We monitor plant health and pest pressures daily.  We prefer not to apply any materials but if pressures get beyond a threshold that would result in plant damage, we rely on organic crop protection materials.  All materials, if any, applied to the plant are certified as ORGANIC by the Organic Materials Research Institute (OMRI) and/or the National Organic Program (NOP).  We do not apply any chemicals while the fruit is on the bush. 

Oh, and by the way, we have not applied any synthetic fertilizer since the bushes were planted in Oct 2002.  We feel our program of nutrient recycling is working quite well.  This is backed by visual observation, flavor tasting, and analytical data.