Every spring, a strip of horse manure compost is spread down all our tree rows. This helps retain soil moisture, promote insect biodiversity, provide habitat for beneficial insects, improve nutrient cycling, increase soil microbial levels, and reduce the need for fertilizers.
Between rows of trees and vines a variety of cover crops are planted from year to year. Cover crops include mustard, rapeseed, red clover, white clover, crimson clover, barley, and rye. Cover crops provide a variety of benefits depending on the species.
Benefits can include nitrogen fixation, breaking up compaction, adding organic matter to the soil, moisture retention, fumigation, attracting and supplying a food source for beneficials, and preventing nutrient leaching into ground water.
Weekly population levels and life cycles are monitored or identified key pests and beneficial insects. Keeping a good eye on not only pests but beneficial insects is critical to a robust pest control system. This insures we time all inputs in a way that does not negatively impact beneficial insects.
Testing the soil, foliage, fruitlets, and fruit is critical to knowing what nutrients are actually being utilized by plants. A number of these tests are taken at periodic times to ensure no nutrients are wasted and any nutrient deficiencies are addressed before any physiological damage can occur.
Soil moisture is monitored weekly and is adjusted based on soil moisture probes and weather forecasts. This helps make sure we do not waste any water. In addition all trees and vines are irrigated through drip tubing which reduces water loss from 60% to 3% when compared to traditional sprinkler systems.
In organic operations controlling weeds is very tricky as it is not permitted to use synthetically derived herbicides such as glyphosate or 2,4-D. To effectively control weeds compost and organic herbicides such as vinegar are utilized. Timing applications down to the right humidity and temperature during the day can make all the difference.
Sauk Farm has been certified Organic by the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) since 2016. To become certified organic requires adhering to federal and state organic regulations, such as using only certified organic fertilizers and seeds. In addition operations are subjected to an annual in-depth onsite audit.