Wisconsin potato and vegetable growers have long looked at sustainability as a three legged stool orf responsibility. One leg is social responsibility, while another is economic. The third leg, which gets a lot of attention, is environmental responsibility. These thoughts and practices are second nature to us, in part, because of our relationship with our core researchers at UW-Madison, USDA, Ag Experiment Systems and our County Extension Agents. Another reason for the prevalence of these practices on our farms is that is makes good business sense, serving us in achieving both our short and long term goals. Biodiversity is just one component of our environmental responsibility.
Biodiversity tells us the number and variety of different native species found within an ecosystem. This is important to each of us. A diverse environment of native species compared to similar environments that are dominated by a few non-native and often weedy less desirable species, is more stable ecologically and provides many essential services to communities. These ecosystem services are not always easy to identify. They include many valuable natural benefits such as: water filtration, maintenance of soil structure and health, habitat for birds and pollinating insects, alternative food sources to preserve beneficial insect predators and habitats for rare and endangered species. We have all of these things at work in our diverse ecosystem landscape. (more…)