Farming is not only a business, but a responsibility - a responsibility to practice good stewardship, and a responsibility to honour the past and take care of the present while planning for a sustainable future.
We believe that we are keepers of the land as opposed to owners. It has been said that we are merely "borrowing the land from our grandchildren," so every effort is made to preserve and care for it into the future.
The Harrold Family has a proud heritage of farming this land near the Town of Lamont, Alberta since 1907. Our farm has preserved many acres that are home to a wide variety of wildlife, native plants, forested areas, wetlands and creeks.
On this page:
Agriculture and the Environment
Agriculture and the environment are inter-related and there is great potential to nurture a relationship between them that provides mutual benefits to both systems. Responsible agricultural land management has been a positive force that promotes both economic viability and preservation of the environment.
Over time, farming has contributed to creating and maintaining a unique landscape rich in a variety of habitats, including a mosaic of wooded areas, wetlands, grasslands and riparian areas (the special habitat along creeks and rivers). Leaving untouched areas of bush, sloughs and fenceline cover enhance the habitat for wildlife, which in turn enhance our lives. A healthy, diverse wildlife population is an indication of a healthy environment.
The map below depicts one of the fields on the Harrold Family Farm and the many different habitats it provides. Hover over it to view some of the life it supports. This is how we view our farm - a deeply connected relationship between agriculture and the natural world.
Sustainable Agriculture Practices
Being responsible stewards of the land is essential to the long-term success and vision of our family farm. Our livelihood depends on the land that we are privileged to farm and our commitment is to foster safe, sustainable farming practices that preserve our environment and promote healthy growing systems.
We are affected by such variables as the weather, economics and the limitations/strengths of the land we work with.
The strategies we use focus on planning, assessment, technology, soil structure and quality, and water and land management. These include:
Thinking ahead and making sound decisions today will improve our ability to ensure success in the future. Planning strategically allows us to set overall goals for our farm and to develop a plan to achieve them. It involves us taking a step back from day-to-day farming operations and asking where we are headed and what our priorities should be.
Environmental Farm Plan
We have completed an Environmental Farm Plan and participated in a Wildlife Habitat Survey to help us assess the health of our farm environment. These documents provide us with critical guidance and resources so that we can best care for the land and water.
Growing the same crops on the same land for several years in a row can lead to unhealthy soils that become starved of nutrients and infested with pests. Rotating the types of crops planted not only ensures that nutrient levels are being replenished, but also naturally reduces weeds and pests and allows a restorative period for the land.
Tilling, such as plowing, harrowing, disking or cultivating, involves breaking up the land. Excessive tillage results in the loss of soil structure and fertility, poor drainage and increased soil erosion. We reduce tillage whenever possible on our farm to minimize fuel usage, restore and maintain the structure of the soil, and increase the land's water holding capacity during periods of low moisture.
In addition to crop rotation and reduced tillage, we make other choices that enrich the soil. Cattle manure is composted and spread in areas that require additional nutrients and fibre. Fenceline cover and specific crops provide erosion control and build soil structure.
Although we are not certified organic producers, we grow our crops with minimal use of herbicides, fungicides and insecticides. There is now overwhelming evidence that some of these chemicals pose a potential risk to humans and wildlife, and produce unwanted side effects for the environment.
Sustainable Land Management
Choosing crop and grazing locations strategically in order to leave critical areas of bush, wetlands and fenceline cover intact is important to us. The United Nations defines sustainable land management as “the use of land resources, including soils, water, animals and plants, for the production of goods to meet changing human needs, while simultaneously ensuring the long-term productive potential of these resources and the maintenance of their environmental functions”.
Sustainable Water Management
Water is crucial for agriculture and food production, as well as meeting human needs and the needs of the environment. Every effort is taken to protect the water sources on our farm, including wetlands and riparian areas. For example, solar-powered water pumps located in the pasture provide a water source to prevent the cattle from getting into and damaging the waterways.
We utilize the benefits of technology wherever possible. We are proud to be partially solar powered - we have saved more than 72,500 pounds of CO2 since 2012. For more information, please see our Solar Power Page.
Wise Use of Our Resources
Along with our care of the land goes a responsibility to use our resources wisely. We recycle, reuse, reduce, repurpose and recirculate materials such as metal, wood, plastics, equipment and building supplies, using all of the options available to us in our community and in the wider Edmonton region.
As good land stewards, we believe it is our responsibility to spread our love for the land and awareness of the relationship between agriculture and the environment. We strive to build community relationships that foster deep understanding and curiosity.
For more information, please see our Learning Page.