NAPI AGRONOMIST LEADS NM ORGANIC FARMING DISCUSSION
There were 645 attendees from the southwest region of the United States at the 2-day conference. The farmers, ranchers, and researchers shared their experiences and expertise on organic farming. NMDA Organic Program Manager Stacy Gerk who helped organize the event said their focus is strictly orientated toward the production side of organic farming, which is most beneficial to individual farmers. “Every year we select presenters from across the United States. Ms. Pablo has represented NAPI, a large scale farming industry for many years. She is an advocate for sustainable farming and a great asset to the community,” says Mr. Gerk. Over the years, the conference organizers have seen an increase of interest from Native American tribes in organic farming.
“For years, I’ve been heavily involved with NAPI’s organic program and always kept in touch with other organic farmers. The state of New Mexico does not have a lot of farms that are certified organic, including a farm as large as NAPI,” explained Ms. Pablo. “NAPI has attended in years past, this is the first time we’ve been asked to present and I was selected by the organizers.”
The selected presenter had to have knowledge of the following topics: buffer zones, seed sourcing, informational sources for organically allowed fertilizers, rotational crop requirement, Natural Resource Conservation requirement, and equipment cleaning - if not all fields are organic.
With over 20 years of experience in agriculture, Ms. Pablo provided the history of organic farming at NAPI and answered questions based on her expertise. “Achieving yields is one of the most difficult aspects of organic production. As a large producer, one of our biggest problems is having an effective weed control. The cost of organic over conventional farming is higher because we must substitute labor and intensive management for chemicals,” said Ms. Pablo. “We’ve had a change of management in the past few years who proposed that we re-initiate our organic crop that includes vegetables. NAPI’s organic program is heading toward a positive direction with NAPI’s team of experts including the support from our upper-level management and Board of Directors. We are a unique operation and as a team, we will learn from our endeavors and continue to strive for success.”
Beginning this year, NAPI will grow organic potatoes, melons, squash, and onions. NAPI received their accredited organic certification from the New Mexico Department of Agriculture Organic Program in 2016. The requirements to be certified organic consist of following the rules and regulation by the USDA, a detailed record of farming activities, and continuous inspection with verification from NMDA.
NAPI Board of Directors Vice-Chairperson Peter Deswood III who was also in attendance at the conference says, “Ms. Pablo is very knowledgeable about our crops and the entire process of farming. Her level of education and experience in agriculture is an empowering strength to the company. The board appreciates her guidance and encouragement on achieving sustainable farming practices. Ms. Pablo illustrates the nature of staff we have at NAPI by being very proactive and gifted in the field of agriculture.”
The agenda included Jamie Kulesa, General Manager/Owner of Nature’s Way Dairy, LLC who manages two organic dairy operations from Portales, New Mexico. Organizers for the event include New Mexico Department of Agriculture (NMDA), New Mexico State University Cooperative Extension Service, Green Tractor Farms & Santa Fe Farmer’s Market Institute, and New Mexico Farm & Livestock Bureau Federation.
For more information on NAPI’s organic program, contact 505-566-2600.
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