Cultivation/Production, North America, Smart Farming, Sustainability

Peter VanderZaag: A Canadian potato producer’s commitment to change and sustainable farming

Every farmer knows that change is inevitable. New markets beckon, new technologies emerge, end-user tastes, preferences and opportunities shift, and it’s often the primary producer who’s one of the first to react, as Ralph Pearce writes in this news story published by Country Guide.

Peter VanderZaag has spent much of his farming career investing wisely in new equipment, securing contracts and growing his Sunrise Potato Storage business in Alliston, Ontario, to where it is today. But VanderZaag’s journey required a firm and ongoing commitment to change, first in terms of soil health and productivity, and then in meeting his customers’ demands for quality and consistency while incorporating new technologies. Given his starting point, the changes were neither quick nor simple.

“Most farmers understand they have to do this,” says VanderZaag, who grew up on a family farm near Alliston in the 1950s. “You cannot get a mediocre crop — you need an excellent crop. You have to have everything done right, and that starts with good soil health and good soil management … and then good seed and good management of the crop as it grows.”

VanderZaag eventually became a potato scientist, and in 1991 he and his wife Carla returned to Canada after living abroad for decades. The couple set their sights on potato production. Seeing the impact of soil degradation in many parts of the world, the VanderZaags realized soil heath and crop diversity would be key to their farming success and they could also serve as an example for others to consider. 

Source: Country Guide. Read the full story here
Photo: Peter VanderZaag has taken all he’s learned about soil health and applied it to his Sunrise Potato Storage endeavour. Photo credit Peter VanderZaag via Country Guide

Editor & Publisher: Lukie Pieterse

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