We are constantly striving to learn newer and more sustainable farming methods to be a good steward of the land and produce the best and most nutritious pecans possible. Scroll down to learn more about the regenerative farming practices we have recently undertaken and the new partnerships we have made with other like-minded organizations.
Our Regenerative Partners
Bats for Regenerative Pest Control - Merlin Tuttle's Bat Conservation
We recently partnered with Merlin Tuttle of Merlin Tuttle's Bat Conservation in an effort to install 16 bat houses in our pecan orchards as a Regenerative Pest Control Method. Merlin's team will identify the native Texas bats that inhabit the houses and the insects they feed on. Our hope is that the bats will feed on insects that are detrimental to our pecan trees and crop, and will therefore be a good alternative to conventional pest control methods that other orchard operations can follow.
If you'd like to order bat houses for your own farm/property, watch a video detailing our partnership with Merlin Tuttle's Bat Conservation or view our bat surveys, please click on the button below.
Elimination of Herbicide Use
We have eliminated the use of herbicides in our orchards over the past 3 years in an effort to promote biodiversity above and below the soil and to achieve our goal of 100% soil groundcover. Diverse plant groundcover is important for our orchard soil health because it increases the amount of photosynthates and organic matter in the soil, provides a more diverse range of plant minerals and nutrients for our trees and soil life, reduces destructively high soil temperatures, and reduces soil erosion by wind and water.
We also anticipate an increase in the number of beneficial insects on and near our trees due to the increasing biodiversity and habitat in our orchards. We hope this will lead to a reduction in necessary targeted insecticide applications for pecan crop pests.
Our pecan and lumber operations provide a surplus of carbon by-products perfect for composting such as pecan shells, twigs and other harvest waste, wood chips, and planer shavings. Several local Texas breweries have recently partnered with us and contribute their spent brewers and distillers grains - a high nitrogen source - for our compost piles (Scroll up to visit their websites).
We intend on spreading our finished compost on our orchard floors to improve the health of our soil and trees and improve the quality of our crop.
*Our compost is not for sale*
Sustainable Agriculture Efforts
Our Sustainable Agriculture Goals are to (1) decrease fertilizer, pesticide, fungicide, irrigation, and diesel use while improving plant health, quality, and productivity in the long run, and (2) to sequester carbon by improving soil organic matter, growing trees, making lumber, and recycling waste.
Below is a list of steps we have taken (plus those stated above) to achieve our Sustainable Agriculture Goals:
- Biological Soil Amendments
- Use of Ramial Woodchips
- Reduced Mowing
- Monitoring of Soil Moisture
- Application of Humates
New Scab Control Efforts
Scab is a fungus that thrives in wet conditions and infects the leaves, shucks, and twigs of pecan and many other fruit trees and can completely wipe out a crop if left untreated. Because of this, we have had to treat for scab using traditional targeted fungicide sprays, though none of the sprays ever touch the pecan meat.
We have recently begun to rotate organic fungicides (FRAC 46) into our fungicide sprays to reduce our use of traditional fungicides. Though our long-term goal is to move away from fungicide sprays, our shorter-term objective is to move towards sprays that do not harm beneficial mycorrhizal fungi. Additionally, We have implemented soil food web tests to monitor soil life.
Testing and Measuring
Leaf tissue samples are sent to a lab 1 to 3 times per year. Most tissue samples are taken in July, but we will be utilizing SAP tissue analysis several times during the 2022 growing season to monitor tree health.
We have 4 different soil tests performed to understand the health of the soil:
1) Conventional Element Test
2) Haney Soil Health Test
3) Soil Food Web Test
4) PLFA Test