What is sustainable agriculture ?

Sustainable agriculture encourages sensitivity to the local environment so that healthy natural areas can thrive along with the ranching, orchard and vineyard industries.

Agricultural land has an important role to play in maintaining local biodiversity.

Recommended Practices

  • Choose previously developed agricultural land for orchards and vineyards rather than converting natural habitat.
  • Protect and restore native plants in gullies, around property margins, and areas unsuitable for cultivation.
  • Protect creeks and wetlands by following Riparian Area Regulations.
  • Prevent nutrient and pesticide runoff from seeping into waterways and use vegetated buffers to protect creeks from runoff.
  • Native wildlife may pass through or use your property. Design fencing so that wildlife travel corridors are not blocked.
  • Use deer fencing and electric bear fencing to effectively discourage problem wildlife .
  • Regularly check netting used for starling control to prevent native birds from getting trapped.
  • Work with your neighbours to protect natural habitats and control invasive weeds.

Organizations that can help you develop sustainable agricultural practices –

BC Sustainable Winegrowing Program

The BC Wine Grape Council offers a comprehensive guidebook, “Sustainable Practices for BC Vineyards”, and self-assessment checklist for developing sustainable practices for BC vineyards and wineries. Chapter include Ecosystem Management, Soil Management, Pest Management, and Water Management. Link to guidebook.

Environmental Farm Plan

The BC Environmental Farm Plan Program (EFP) offers a Reference Guide and Biodiversity Guide to assist farm producers in developing an environmental action plan for their farm. This is a plan that enhances natural resources and reduces the possibility of accidental harm to soil, air, water and biodiversity values. Funds are available to assist producers with some restoration or improvement activities. Link to Environmental Farm Plan.

South Okanagan Similkameen Stewardship Program

The SOS Stewardship Program helps private landowners conserve and enhance natural areas on their property. The program works in partnership with The Land Conservancy of BC, providing information on native plants and wildlife, assisting with land management issues, and assisting with the planning and implementation of habitat enhancement projects. Brochures and fact sheets on habitat stewardship, wildlife management, and invasive weeks, as well as further information on their programs for agriculture are found at SOS Stewardship Program.

Grassland Conservation Council

The GCC works to increase awareness and appreciation for BC’s rare and beautiful grassland ecosystems and work with land managers to achieve sustainable management practices to protect grasslands. The GCC works with ranchers, local governments and conservation organizations to assist with grassland management. “Grassland Monitoring Manual for British Columbia: a Tool for Ranchers”, provides a strong systematic approach for evaluating the health of grassland—both the changes seen on the land base and changes to expect based on ranching management practices. Link to GCC site and manual.

Okanagan Similkameen Conservation Alliance

OSCA works with agricultural organizations to offer workshops and seminars on improving land management practices to benefit species at risk and sensitive habitats. Check out the OSCA web site for information on snake safety and management and other local species that need your help. OSCA’s website has presentations from agricultural workshops on the following topics: Snake Smart, Wildlife Legislation for Agricultural Properties, Habitat Restoration, Integrated Pest Management, and Birds in the Vineyard. Link to EcoManagement site articles.

Wetlands Stewardship Partnership

Well managed and intact wetlands, including riparian areas, offer a variety of benefits to farmers, including providing water for irrigation, recharging aquifers which provide groundwater for irrigation and livestock use, and providing flood protection. “Wetland Ways” agriculture chapter provides guidelines for the management of wetlands that are on or near agricultural lands. It provides guidance to farmers on how they can manage their activities to minimize impacts on wetlands. Link to “Wetland Ways”.

Xerces Society

Many fruits and vegetables are pollinated by native bees, wasps and other insects. Some native bumblebees populations have declined dramatically in the last decade. The Xerces Society provides information on the conservation of native pollinating insects, recommended pesticides to use, and how to identify the native insects that are visiting your land. Link to Xerces site.

Weeds BC

The BC Ministry of Agriculture web site offers information on identifying weeds and developing an invasive plant management plan. Plants poisonous to livestock are also listed. Weeds BC site. The South Okanagan Similkameen Invasive Plant Society also offers tips and brochures on week identification and management, SOSIPS web site.

Bear Aware

“Bear Aware” provides information on managing the things that attract bears, like garbage, bee hives, fruit trees, grapes and compost. The site also provides contact names for local coordinators who can be called for advice. Bear Aware web site. If bears are endangering people you many wish to contact the BC Ministry of Environment Conservation Officer RAPP hotline for 24 hour assistance, 1-877-952-7277.


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