We Do Our Share in Protecting the Planet
Sustainable development principles come from the intersections of culture, politics, economics and ecology. In order to keep the Earth viable and capable of supporting life for generations to come, we use sustainable practices at Terranova Ranch. This preserves our soil and allows it to be fertile, maintaining both plants and wildlife. These practices will encourage our biological systems to be productive, beneficial and diverse.
Terranova Ranch has pioneered the concept of on-farm water recharge in California. For over 25 years we have been working toward recharging the aquifer below us, our main source of irrigation water.
In 2011, flood water was applied to farm fields and documented by researchers at Bachand & Associates and UC Davis. In 2012 the Kings River Conservation District (KRCD) was granted $5 million from the California Department of Water Resources along with $2 million in matching funds from Terranova Ranch to build infrastructure in order to capture and distribute floodwater to Terranova and nearby farmland for on-farm recharge. Sustainable Conservation and UC Davis have been partners in this project.
Work is progressing to implement this project which, at full capacity, will be able to recharge up to 1,000 acre feet of floodwater per day. This project will be a perfect fit with the sustainable ground water management plan for our area. More importantly, it shows Terranova’s commitment to long-term sustainability goals for farming in the San Joaquin Valley.
Sustainable farming practices hinge upon implementing green energy methods that allow us to substitute fossil fuels for cleaner energy such as solar power. Here at Terranova Ranch, we currently have a 1-megawatt solar facility on ten acres of land. By fall 2016, we will have an additional 1-megawatt facility online. With the completion of our second solar project, renewable energy will provide one third of our electric needs while reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 3,700 tons CO² per year.
We have upgraded our sprinkler systems from impact sprinkler heads to new water and energy saving plastic sprinkler heads. The new sprinklers use less water by having better uniformity and are more efficient. We are able to conserve water and lower our energy usage, conserving resources and the environment.
We have also achieved greater sustainability through our pump motors. The use of Variable Frequency Drives (VFD’s) reduces the amount of energy needed for the pumping of water. All pumps equipped with VFD’s require only the amount of energy needed for the water volume desired. This is a much needed improvement from the old practice of running a pump at full power even when unnecessary. In addition to these changes, we converted from diesel to electric booster pumps at all wells with VFD’s.
The California Department of Food and Agriculture’s (CDFA) Science Advisory Panel defines ecosystem services in agriculture as “the multiple benefits we gain from farming and ranching including crop and livestock production. In addition to valuable open space and wildlife habitat, the management decisions and conservation practices of farmers and ranchers also enhance environmental quality, provide recreational opportunities, and offer social benefits.”
We support goals and methods of farming aimed at keeping a diverse habitat as part of the farm. The preservation of wildlife on Terranova Ranch is important to us. Wildlife helps our farm by providing necessary pest control and contributes to the diversity of our environment. We have partnered with the Audubon Society to promote habitat for wildlife by placing owl boxes throughout our fields. In addition to the habitat our fields and orchards provide, we maintain a 4-acre wildlife refuge that is a home to egret and cormorant rookeries, pond turtles, frogs, ducks, great blue herons, hawks, short eared owls and other wildlife.
We continue to make many improvements to help keep our air clean and cut down on pollution. Some actions implemented on our farm include the conversion from natural gas motors to cleaner, non-polluting electric motors. We are enrolled in the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District Incentives Program which has helped us replace older and higher polluting Tier 1 and Tier 2 diesel engines on our tractors with cleaner, more efficient Tier 4 engines. Today, almost all of our equipment on the farm has been converted over to cleaner Tier 4 diesel engines.