R.D. Offutt Farms Marks 60 Years of Sustainable Potato Farming

This spring, R.D. Offutt Farms (RDO) will celebrate its 60th growing season. Ron Offutt began farming potatoes in the sandy soils of Minnesota with his dad in 1964. Much has changed since then, however, RDO remains committed to science-driven and sustainable practices to meet customer needs and move the potato-growing industry forward.

“Since our beginning, we have been a good neighbor in the communities where we farm,” said founder Ron Offutt. “We believe the most sustainable and efficient way to farm is one field at a time, giving the individual crop only what it needs to thrive. We make significant investments in new technologies and subscribe to the most up-to-date scientific information available – to protect the environment while producing high-quality crops.”

Over the years, RDO has invested in cutting-edge technology such as variable rate fertilizer application, GPS field mapping and other software programs that optimize land during production. The RDO team tracks historical weather patterns and soil data information and uses water sensors and remote monitoring in its fields, so irrigation only happens when it is needed. And, the company rotates crops each year as a best practice and plants cover crops on all fields to slow erosion, improve soil health, enhance water availability and increase biodiversity.

North American potato farms are at the forefront of sustainable agriculture,” said John Mesko, CEO of Potato Sustainability Alliance. “PSA program participants like RDO continue to grow more potatoes with less inputs – ensuring a safe and stable food supply while maximizing yields and protecting the environment. Sustainable agriculture is quite simply farming in ways that improve the environmental, social and economic resources over time, and RDO is a great example of a farm that is making those kinds of improvements.”

RDO also prioritizes the protection of natural resources, implementing conservation practices on and off the field. Since the late 1970s, RDO has planted more than 400,000 trees, investing more than $200,000 in reforestation efforts, sourced from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ Badoura State Nursery. The company also partners with Syngenta’s Operation Pollinator to plant pollinator habitats – more than 700 acres so far – with native seed mixes formulated to withstand Minnesota winters.

“We look to RDO as a true partner in creating habitats that help conserve pollinator populations,” said Tommy Jackson, Executive Account Lead at Syngenta. “Pollinators such as bees and monarch butterflies protect our food supply and biodiversity. We are grateful that RDO continues its commitment to increasing these vital habitats.”

Read the AgWeek story here: RDO marks 60 years of potato growing in Minnesota