For the fifth straight year, R.D. Offutt (RDO) Farms has earned high marks implementing sustainable, agricultural best management practices, as measured in an annual industry survey.
The survey, facilitated by the Potato Sustainability Alliance, measures a variety of operational factors, including nutrient use and irrigation efficiency, greenhouse gas emissions, pesticide risk, worker safety, waste and recycling management.
Growers are evaluated in key sustainability metrics in farming practices at four performance levels. RDO Farms earned 98 percent in the basic category, 90 percent in the steward category, 87 percent in the expert category and 55 percent in the master category. On average, RDO Farms scored at least 10 percent higher in each category than growers in the Midwest region and across the country.
Nick David, Midwest Farms Regional Agronomist, said RDO Farms has taken steps every year to improve sustainable growing practices.
“Over the past five years, we have continued to improve nutrient use, crop protection, irrigation water, and tillage efficiency, all while optimizing our yield,” David said. “Though we’ve made improvements and increased our industry sustainability score, we still have work to do.”
In fact, David said RDO Farms’ farm managers and agronomists rely on using the data learned from the survey each year to evaluate areas for improvement.
“There’s a variety of measures we are considering, including developing and implementing holistic soil conservation plans,” David said.
According to the Potato Sustainability Alliance, there is greater scrutiny on the supply chain and increasing consumer demand for more information about how food is produced. Through the annual survey, the Potato Sustainability Alliance provides a means to assess sustainably grown potatoes.
Then, survey results are shared with processors that may better communicate with consumers. RDO Farms works with several processors in the Midwest, including Lamb Weston, J.R. Simplot, McCain Foods and Cavendish.