Lindsay Mitchell

Feb 19, 2013  |  Today's News

Research conducted in 2010 by the Illinois commodity associations and Illinois Farm Bureau showed that being green has become truly mainstream over the last decade. A green mindset is taking root in people’s value system. More than half expect to be more environmentally conscious and rate “preserving the environment” a very/extremely important personal value.

Keeping this in mind, farmers will have to find their niche in this new environmental friendly value system. Yes, farmers are the original environmentalists, but we must show a public that is uninformed about agriculture just how well we preserve the land and the resources in our care.

Justin Durdan, Utica, is doing just that by taking the documentation he accumulates anyway and compiling it into a system to rate his sustainability.

“Sustainability is one of those words that people don’t really understand. A definition is hard to get your arms around. But for this program, sustainability describes how well I’m taking care of the resources around me,” said Durdan.

The FieldPrint Calculator Durdan is using has been created by Field to Market and has major retailers like Wal-Mart behind it. In essence, the program gives farmers a sustainability rating that consumers and purchasers can use to determine if the products fall within moral and ethical guidelines they have set for themselves.

Durdan describes using data like acreage, rainfall, tillage, fertilizer and chemical amounts, bushels per acre yield, and more to allow the FieldPrint Calculator to determine how sustainable he is as a farmer. Right now, Durdan falls well below the state and county average most of the time, meaning that he is more sustainable than the average farm.

“Because the program takes rainfall into account, I didn’t make the guidelines last year due to the drought. This is one of the problems with a program like this. It doesn’t take into account the normal fluctuations we deal with every day like weather, insects, and disease pressure. But everything being average, I can easily meet the sustainability guidelines with what I would consider normal farming practices for 2013,” he said.

Programs like this are the future, according to Durdan. He believes that completing self-certifications like this one will be necessary to compete in the new green value system permeating our country. Durdan hopes that being ahead of the curve in adopting new certifications like this one will give him an edge in the marketplace in years to come.

“Aside from the time it takes to enter the information, this system isn’t asking for anything I didn’t already have. For our farm, I believe it’s worth the extra effort to stay ahead of the green wave. It might be something for other farmers to consider too,” he said.

You can find out more information about the FieldPrint Calculator by Field to Market at www.fieldtomarket.org/fieldprint-calculator/