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Integrated Pest Management and Water Quality Protection

Salmon survival depends on clean water free from harmful levels of fertilizers, pesticides, organic waste and other pollutants. These contaminants can trav- el long distances in stormwater runoff to receiving streams.

Animal Management

Nutrients and pathogens from livestock operations can degrade water quality. Fecal contamination of streams and water bodies can be prevented by adequate ma- nure storage and handling methods.

Landscape-level Biological Diversity Enhancement

There is a growing body of evidence suggesting that agriculture benefits from greater biodiversity. This cat- egory ensures that farm practices support and enhance biodiversity for fish, wildlife and vegetation through- out the farm.

The similarity in standards has made Salmon-Safe accreditation relatively easy for many organic farm- ers. But as a program that focuses on water and fish, Salmon-Safe does require extra attention to natural pesticides – such as copper sulphate, which is harmful to young fish – and to irrigation water quantity that can deplete the water supplies salmon need to migrate upstream. For many organic farmers committed to sus- tainability, these are not prohibitive requirements.

The process to get certified is pretty simple. Once farmers have reviewed the standards, they can contact Salmon-Safe to schedule an assessment. Prior to the site visit, farmers should prepare some baseline in- formation, including a map of the property, pesticide records, irrigation management information and any habitat restoration documents. The assessment con- sists of an approximately 45-minute interview and one to two hour site visits. The Salmon-Safe inspector will then compile a report identifying conditions (if any) that the farmer will need to address to comply with the standards, as well as non-binding recommendations for continuous improvement of land management practices and promotion of ecosystem health.

Once certified, the farm receives several benefits to help market its products, including use of the Salmon- Safe logo on certified products, a Salmon-Safe gate sign and other promotional and educational materials. These materials help educate consumers and retailers

Continued on page 29... BC Organic Grower, Volume 17, Number 1, Winter 2014 Page 23

Making Sumas Safe for Salmon

Located in the Sumas Prairie, Crisp Organics is among the Salmon-Safe certified farms that are helping pro- tect the Fraser River – one of the greatest salmon wa- tersheds in the world.

Prior to becoming a co-owner of Crisp Organics, An- drew Arkesteyn-Vogler worked in fish hatcheries and as a salmon life-cycle educator. So he is well aware of the importance of the Fraser Basin, and of the differ- ent ways farmers can impact salmon and watersheds. Beyond just avoiding farming practices that will nega- tively impact the aquatic ecosystem, farmers have a unique opportunity to take positive actions that re- store and improve salmon habitat.

“The Sumas Prairie is some of the most intensive farmland in BC. It used to be a healthy watershed but it is now farmed edge to edge,” says Andrew. “If farm- ers in the area were to set aside even just a five foot buffer along their irrigation ditches, it would go a long way towards getting salmon back into what was once one of the most productive lakes and wetlands, and home to many native species, including sturgeon and geese,” he points out, adding, “And then I could catch salmon in my backyard!”

To encourage biodiversity for wildlife and vegetation throughout the farm, Andrew has planted a wide va- riety of trees and plants in the buffers along the ditch- es. “The willows, birches, cottonwoods and blackber- ry are homes for insects and provide shade to keep the water cool.” Encouraging native vegetation along stream banks also reduces erosion that could impact salmon spawning areas.

Andrew has been working for the past three years to convert an abandoned nursery into the thriving farm that Crisp Organics is today. Since getting Salmon- Safe certified last year, he has been actively address- ing conditions to minimize impacts on fish habitat identified by the Salmon-Safe assessor.

“We are currently working to stabilize the road- ways and control sediment movement into drain- age ditches,” says Andrew. The problem has proven more difficult than expected, but he’s trying to find a creative solution. “I have spoken with people who work in fisheries, and we have tried different experi- mental things to solve the issue including using sock- like sediment traps, but none has worked so far.” The Salmon-Safe assessor continues to work with Andrew to identify a solution that will work without compro- mising his field operations.

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