1 of 3
Willem Semmelink, Vineyard Manager for Summerhill Pyramid Winery.
2 of 3
Willem Semmelink and EFP Plan Advisor Pete Spencer celebrating a successful EFP Plan implementation.
3 of 3
Willem Semmelink and EFP Plan Advisor Pete Spencer beside the windrow turner.
Willem Semmelink is the vineyard manager for Summerhill Pyramid Winery in the Okanagan. Having participated in the Canada-British Columbia Environmental Farm Plan (EFP) Program in the past, when he made the transition to Summerhill he called his EFP Planning Advisor to find out how an organic farm could benefit from participating in the EFP Program.
“I went through the Environmental Farm Plan workbook with my EFP Planning Advisor, Peter Spencer,” said Semmelink. “The workbook is easy to use and is basically a guideline for systematized sustainability. It fits in perfectly with organic farming, which is also about sustainability. Water and soil health and the protection of sensitive areas and the handling of inputs and manures and spray materials are things we looked at when going through the workbook.”
A Nutrient Management Plan
The EFP workbook recommended a nutrient management plan (NMP) because Semmelink was going to try to increase his crop yields by increasing the amount of nutrients applied to his crops. The voluntary NMP assessed Semmelink’s use of nutrients (largely nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) to help optimize crop production and the protection of soil, water, and air. The results from the NMP suggested that Summerhill could benefit from a windrow turner, a piece of equipment that would help Semmelink create higher quality compost more efficiently and sustainably.
Making a Case for Funding
Unfortunately, there wasn’t any funding available specifically for windrow turners, but it did fit into a sustainability model. Semmelink and Spencer worked together to quantify the on-farm environmental risk to be mitigated by the machine and then went through the process of requesting funding through the Beneficial Management Practice (BMP) Program, a cost-share funding program that is linked to the Environmental Farm Plan Program.
“The EFP program is always looking for innovative ways to make farming more environmentally sustainable,” said Planning Advisor, Peter Spencer. “Just because a practice or a piece of equipment isn’t on the list that outlines which BMP projects are eligible for cost-share funding, doesn’t mean you can’t get funding for it. The BMP list is reviewed annually and changes can be made mid-year. We made a case for funding and it was approved with 30% of the cost funded to Summerhill.”
A Good Investment
“Being a low input facility, being more soft on the earth, definitely has its rewards,” said Semmelink. “In this particular case, we went through all the steps, identified a new opportunity to reduce our environmental footprint, applied for cost-shared funding, and got approved. The windrow turner was a good investment. It’s creating high qualify, sustainable compost and it’s a major time and money saver too. It has reduced our labour costs for creating compost by 80%.”
Make the EFP Workbook One of Your Tools
Semmelink highly recommends going through the workbook with a Planning Advisor, no matter what size or type of farm you have. “The EFP workbook is a well thought out tool and it’s made for all types of farms. You only need to complete the sections that apply to your farm”. The Environmental Farm Plan is helping BC farmers and ranchers reduce agriculture’s impact on the environment.
Start your Environmental Farm Plan today. Call 1-866-522-3447
or visit www.bcefp.ca
Thanks for visiting Orchard & Vine Online!
Like us on FACEBOOK