Ideas for Enhancing Sustainability on Your Farm
Increase self-reliance by growing your own inputs. Reduce the purchase of fertilizers, animal feed, and hay mulch by growing much of your own. You'll save money and improve the health of your livestock, soils, crops, and ultimately, the food you sell and eat.
Here are a few of the many ways in which Johnny's Farm Seed offerings can contribute to the sustainability of your operation:
Pasture mixes of grasses and legumes provide an important source of food for livestock. Organic certification requires that ruminants such as cattle, sheep, and goats have access to green pasture during the growing season. Grazing also benefits non-ruminants, reducing the amount of other feed required as it improves health.
Hay and silage can be grown on the farm to provide feed for livestock during the winter. Forage turnips can provide feed for livestock even when covered with snow. Growing your own feed reduces the need to buy hay, an expense that can significantly reduce the profit potential of livestock.
Grains & Seeds
Grains are essential to the diets of poultry and swine. Most cattle also are fed grains. Growing and mixing your own feed rations may be more cost-effective and even necessary for certified growers if local certified-organic feeds are not available. At home, grains can be milled for baking, and 'Royal Hybrid 1121' produces delicious edible sunflower seeds and bird food.
Farmers without livestock face a greater perennial challenge of renewing soil fertility for crop production. Field rotation with green manures — cover crops that provide nutrients, increase organic matter, and improve soil tilth — can effectively counterbalance this challenge. Johnny's carries over 30 selections to suit a range of specific needs.
Hay for Mulching
Hay meadows can be cut and baled to provide mulch for vegetable crops, thus reducing the need for petroleum-fueled tillage.
Insectary plantings help to increase pollination of vegetable and fruit crops while providing nectar and habitat for beneficial insects. Certain crops such as oilseed radish and mustards control nematodes while also increasing soil organic matter. Many growers include insectary plantings as part of their overall sustainable practices plan.
Lynn and her family have been growing vegetables and cut flowers since 1988, selling through CSAs, at farmers' markets, to chefs, grocery stores, and florists. They currently grow cut flowers and hoophouse tomatoes on about 2 acres of their 20-acre farm near Lawrence, Kansas. She is also the author/editor of The Flower Farmer.