This week Global Farmer Network member Georgina “Gina” Gutierrez is sharing her views on sustainability. A fifth generation farmer, she and her family operate a dairy farm in the central region of Mexico near the Mexico City area.
Running a dairy is time intensive and never stops. Yet, Gina finds time to be active on her own social media and through La Vida Láctea helping tell the story of farming. Plus, she writes a regular column Hoard’s Dairyman en español.
*English is a second language for most GFN members and responses may have been lightly edited.
Global Farmer Network Board member – Georgina Gutierrez, Pachuca, Mexico
Question: What is your definition of sustainable farming?
Answer: I define sustainable farming as the practices farmers take to produce the best food –food that’s affordable, available, high quality, etc. And, it’s done in ways that don’t harm the environment, but on the contrary, help with conservation, and the fostering and renewal of natural resources.
Question: What farming practices are you using on your farm today that helps the sustainability of your farming operation and the soil that you are farming on?
Answer: A quick list of things include:
Solar energy – solar panels that produce all the energy my farm needs.
Water recycling – our milking parlour and the facilities where we keep the cows are designed to be flushed with water, so that water is reused to keep everything clean and we have special equipment to separate water (to recycle again or sent to our fields) from solids (manure) that we use for compost.
Composting – the solids we separate everyday are used for compost. After the process is completed, we store it and use it as bedding material for our cows’ beds and as fertilizer as we prepare the land before planting. We also make a little bit of compost tea as fertilizer.
Choosing bio-friendly chemicals – we prefer to choose disinfectants, soaps, etc. that are biodegradable.
Question: Where do you get information about sustainable farming practices that are appropriate for your farm?
Answer: We are always in touch with our suppliers, other farmers and mailing lists [promotional material].
Question: How do you determine what practices work best on your farm?
Answer: We talk to other farmers and see what has worked for them before, and if no one has done something we are thinking of then we try to run the numbers, make a plan, and adapt it to what we have – and we make a lot of trial efforts.
Question: Are there specific technologies that will support the sustainability of your farming operation?
Answer: We could always use more technological tools; we are right now looking into drones that may help us in certain activities on the fields.
Question: Do you share sustainable farming practices that you use with other farmers? If yes, how?
Answer: [Yes] We arrange farm visits, or [discussions] when we have meetings at our company, or even just a phone call or WhatsApp message also works.