How a tree nursery is making regenerative agriculture scalable
April 01, 2020
Written by Kurstin Barta (Plant Health Manager)
Over the past 5 years, Purple Springs Nursery has been on a gradual transition towards regenerative agriculture.
Our journey began (at first unknowingly) towards regenerative agriculture because we needed to address some significant issues that were affecting the future of the farmland, the profitability of the nursery, and the ease and flow of production and shipping.
The issues we were challenged with were:
- The need to reduce chemical costs.
- Our soil needing to be replaced after being shipped out with our burlap & basket tree shipments.
- The conflict between departments due to the field closures after pesticide or herbicide applications.
This led us to the following solutions:
- First we made it a goal to develop a preventative Integrated Pest Management (IPM) system rather than a reactive one to reduce pesticides and costs.
- We increased soil organic matter by implementing a compost program, and by grow cover crops.
- With a predictive IPM model we gave the production and sales departments a heads up on spray closures.
At the time of the above mentioned steps, we were unaware of the term “regenerative agriculture”. We simply HAD TO improve.
At the time … we were unaware of the term “regenerative agriculture”. We simply HAD TO improve.
Our Greatest Discovery: The 3 P’s
Nearing the end of our 2018 season, we were getting well acquainted with the term regenerative agriculture. So we took action as a company by partnering up with experts at the forefront of the regenerative agriculture field. These mentors helped show us the way forward. So while we are in no way experts on the subject, we do have some experience and results.
We want to share with you the greatest significant discovery that propelled us forward. It is a concept that helped everything “click” for us. We call it “The 3 P’s: Perspective, Principles and Practices”.
The concept is this: After determining that our “why” is to grow a better tomorrow today, our PERSPECTIVE changed. We began operating out of guiding PRINCIPLES, which in turn generated and continues to guide our farming PRACTICES.
Living out of this concept we were able to achieve results with regenerative agriculture in one season that we didn’t think were possible. It is our intention that these 3 P’s – if adopted, can be implemented to achieve change in any farming operation.
How the 3 P’s Led Us to Regenerative Agriculture
It all began with our “WHY”. We do what we do to “grow a better tomorrow, today”.
It took a total redesign of our past beliefs. We had to let go of the way we viewed farming. Instead, we began seeing the nursery as an entire ecosystem.
Are rooted in a fundamental truth that serve as the foundation for a system of belief. Our principles are driven by leading edge science taught to us by our regenerative agriculture mentors.
Our behaviours arise out of our perspectives and principles. Once we had a solid perspective and guiding principles, our farming practices began to evolve. We questioned things. We strove to become even more efficient and effective. We reduced pesticide use even further by solving the underlying cause!
It all began with our WHY. We do what we do to grow a better tomorrow, today.
Regenerative Agriculture is a Journey
Although this post does not specifically outline the how, let us offer you this first:
Regenerative agriculture is a transitional journey. It allows farmers to go beyond sustainability by working with natural ecosystems. It allows us to rise to the challenges facing modern day agriculture with fewer, more eco friendly inputs. The nursery industry in particular has not changed much for many many years. We believe even more in this approach since our 2019 season when we went all in with our trials. In one year after implementing the 3 P’s we have seen the results in our budgeting, in our trees, in our soil, and in the increased efficiency of our operations.
If you wish to learn more about our 3 P’s and how we’ve been implementing Regenerative Agriculture to a scalable size, check out this free guide!