The Nature Conservancy’s Nominee Jones Potato Farm wins a 2016 Commissioner’s Agricultural Environmental Leadership Award
Selected for best management practices for irrigation, soil, food safety, and fertilization
Jones Potato Farm
See how the Jones practice conservation on the farm.Watch Video
Jones Potato Farm in Parrish, Florida has been honored with the 2016 Commissioner’s Agricultural Environmental Leadership Award by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Selected for its outstanding commitment to protecting and preserving Florida’s resources through best management practices for irrigation, soil, food safety, and fertilization, Jones has been working with The Nature Conservancy on conservation methods and the 4R Nutrient Stewardship Program for several years. Jones was nominated by the Conservancy for consideration, and received the award today at the Florida Farm Bureau Annual meeting.
David Royal, Florida Nutrient Stewardship Director stated, “The Nature Conservancy has been working with Alan Jones and Jones Farm since 2013 and we continue to be impressed by their dedication to implementing best practices for water, soil, fertilization and nutrient management. We’re excited to see their environmental stewardship officially recognized with the Agricultural Environmental Leadership Award.”
“Jones is helping to set the new standard for agricultural practices and sustainable intensification. The agricultural community is facing the challenge of increasing or sustaining production while protecting water quality, minimizing water usage, conserving soils, and protecting landscapes. Practices that protect and conserve natural resources while benefitting farm output and crop consumers are a win-win,” said Temperince Morgan, Executive Director, The Nature Conservancy. “We congratulate Alan Jones and his entire operation on this honor.”
The farm has methods in place to help manage erosion and replenish the soil with cover crops which add organic matter to the soil. Health of the soil critical. The farm produces a variety of specialty potatoes including red, white and purple, for table and chip production on 2,800 plus acres. Green beans are grown as a rotational crop, delivering nitrogen to the soil to enrich it, and crops such as sorghum and cow peas are planted in areas where excess nutrients must be absorbed. Fertilizer is used with precision -- nutrients are placed in the right place and right time for ultimate uptake by the plant by a GPS driven fertilizer spreader, working from a system of grids based on nutrient needs from soil samples and soil types. This system provides up to a 30% reduction in fertilizer use, which results in improvement of water quality.
Water conservation is a priority. The use of low volume sprinkler heads and electric pivot irrigation systems have reduced water consumption by about 1 million gallons per day, and monitoring the water table ensures the soil moisture is maintained at optimal levels. These practices work together to conserve water by up to as much as 70%, and limit erosion, irrigation runoff, and potential pollution.
Jones Farm is home to many species of song birds and waterfowl, as well as the Sandhill Crane. The land includes areas of wetlands and bay heads where wildlife find refuge and natural systems are maintained.
We have always believed in taking proper care of the land, because the land is what takes care of us,” said Alan Jones, Jones Potato Farm. “We appreciate The Nature Conservancy’s support of our efforts and their work in agricultural best practices. The BMP’s are the right thing to do for the farmer, the land, water, and the environment. Future generations will continue here productively and responsibly in agriculture.”
Jones is committed to the best implementation of the 4R Nutrient Stewardship program. The 4R’s are the Right Source, the Right Rate, at the Right Time and in the Right Place. Developed by the Fertilizer Institute, International Plant Nutrition Institute and the Canadian Fertilizer Institute, its goals are to optimize fertilizer use and improve water quality both within the farmed land and in water leaving the property. In 2013 Jones was the 4R Advocate Award winner and the first and only farm in Florida to win this national award.
Jones Farm is one of 3 award recipients this year, honored for their environmental farming and ranching operations in the state, after selection by a committee composed of representatives from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, The Nature Conservancy, the state’s Water Management Districts, the Florida Farm Bureau, the Florida Cattlemen’s Association, the Florida Dairy Association, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Florida’s Soil and Water Conservation Districts, Florida Citrus Mutual, the Florida Nursery, Growers and Landscape Association, and the Florida Forestry Association.
The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 72 countries, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.