Walker Brothers has received one of two Environmental Stewardship Awards from the National Potato Council. Along with a farm in Washington State, Walker Brothers farm was praised for their leadership in habitat conservation for wildlife as well as promoting practices that encourage water conservation, clean water and soil conservation.
In a letter sent to Walker Brothers, the National Potato Council credited their success in implementing practices that reduce pesticide usage while retaining high crop yields. Some of these practices included using no-till drills and GPS for wheat crops to decrease pesticide use as well as to prevent wind erosion. Another tactic used for reducing pesticide use was planting 12 foot strips of rye and grass around fields to encourage insects to leave crops alone.
Walker Brothers also participated in the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Flood Fallow program, which not only created habitat for waterfowl but also filtered sediment from water and resulted in richer soil for future crops. While implementing these practices in the 2009 growing season, Walker Brothers farm harvested 62,366 metric tons of chipping potatoes.
“We plant a lot of grass around the fields for wildlife habitat. We let the ground lay fallow for the Walking Wetlands,’’ said John Walker of one of their more noticeable conservation techniques. “So it’s a win-win for the people and the birds.”
As part of the award, Walker Brothers received $300 to go towards a new digital camera to take pictures of their potato farming operation to be used in an educational video produced by the National Potato Council and the award’s sponsor, Dupont, to discuss the benefits of environmental stewardship.
An award ceremony will be held on January 7th, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada during the National Potato Council’s Annual Meeting.