Pierce Conservation District's Farm Team assists landowners in developing conservation farm plans. Together, the land user and farm planner will explore management challenges, concerns, and possible impacts of their farming practices on soils, surface and groundwater, crop production, and other natural resources. Each conservation farm plan is tailored to the individual needs of the land user and their farm. These plans are as dynamic as the individuals who create them and can be modified as management plans and/or circumstances change.
Conversion of agricultural land to urban uses is a particular concern in California, as rapid growth and escalating land values threaten farming on prime soils. Existing farmland conversion patterns often discourage farmers from adopting sustainable practices and a long-term perspective on the value of land. At the same time, the close proximity of newly developed residential areas to farms is increasing the public demand for environmentally safe farming practices. Comprehensive new policies to protect prime soils and regulate development are needed, particularly in California's Central Valley. By helping farmers to adopt practices that reduce chemical use and conserve scarce resources, sustainable agriculture research and education can play a key role in building public support for agricultural land preservation. Educating land use planners and decision-makers about sustainable agriculture is an important priority.
There are currently two different systems for land-based farming and choosing which technology to use depends on the location. Recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS) can be placed anywhere, while more traditional flow-through systems (FTS) have to be near a coastline. RAS technology can therefore be placed near the market, reducing water consumption and savings with lower energy use. However, RAS have much higher operational complexity than FTS and require more capital expenditure and land area. Globally, our analysis shows that there is a clear trend towards RAS rather than FTS as the preferred technology for land-based farming. However, all land-based salmon farming, and especially RAS technology, is not free from challenges. A major challenge is the adequate control of microbial conditions and the chemistry of the water. Recent incidents from large land-based facilities show how the sector can suffer from mass mortalities, while the fish can be tainted with an earthy flavour because the biological conditions in land-based facilities are still difficult to control and very young fish are sensitive to poor water quality.
This figure is highly dependent on FCR ratios, the electricity mix and the fact that land-based production is still nascent, and therefore little empirical data exist. This report gives an indication that, from a global perspective, the environmental benefits of land-based production compared to traditional open pen production is not clear cut and that land-based farming needs to work harder at building its sustainability credentials. At the same time sea-based farming isn't standing still. For example, we see salmon farmers launching new pilot projects from road to sea, using low carbon fuels and new freezing technologies to support long-distance sea transportation routes. Innovations like this, if successful, will reduce the carbon footprint of sea cage farming, further putting pressure on land-based farming to prove its sustainability credentials.
NRCS provides landowners with free technical assistance, or advice, for their land. Common technical assistance includes: resource assessment, practice design and resource monitoring. Your conservation planner will help you determine if financial assistance is right for you. 153554b96e