Hops have been an important crop in Washington State for over a century, with Yakima now producing more than 75% of the nation's hops. We have seen the trends and changes, and have worked to evolve with them. One important change in the industry is the increasing importance of sustainable growing and we have been eager to make our mark in sustainability.
Our Drop Control soil moisture sensors by Wiseconn help us manage water use efficiently. This helps us eliminate excessive water usage by measuring the water reaching the important sections of our root systems and monitoring how much water is retained. Another update to our water management is the addition of the TWIG-MC irrigation system by Nelson Irrigation. Not only does the TWIG-MC system reduce our water waste, but it also eases labor cost and effort. The TWIG-MC system offers more reliability with less downtime as well as an easy user interface for field staff to manage. This is the first year that we have used TWIG-MC to help us water our hops, and it has drastically reduced the time and effort needed to irrigate. We can now precisely schedule our watering from employees’ phones and track how much water is expended at any time of day.
We have implemented numerous tools to make Morrier Ranch more energy efficient and environmentally friendly. In addition, we are studying carbon sequestration options to help reduce our environmental footprint. One of the changes that we have made is implementing LED lights in some of our buildings. These LED lights are more efficient than typical lights because they require less electricity. Morrier Ranch also uses both natural gas and propane for our energy. As many people know, natural gas is the cleanest form of fossil fuel and is a highly efficient form of energy. Propane is one of the fuels that makes up Natural gas and also has many benefits over traditional fossil fuels like the fact that it is not considered a greenhouse gas in its natural state and is not toxic or damaging.
Social and Economic Pillars:
We have several resources to retain the health and fertility of our soil. For many years we have employed Rye cover crops to help manage the erosion, fertility, and overall health of our soil. Our summers can be exceedingly hot and dry and without our cover crops they would be very dusty too. These crops also provide our Hops with numerous nutrients that are important for growth, and they help to increase the water holding capacity of the soil. We also recycle the mulch that we recover from our hops after harvest to fertilize the soil. We also use this mulch in the spring along with compost for our baby hops.
As agriculture has evolved and the need for better IPM strategies have come into play, Morrier Ranch has listened to, and implemented many of these ideas. From adding beneficial insects, protecting the natural beneficials we do have, and trying alternative chemistries for mite control, they have been more than willing to try alternative programs."
GlobalG.A.P. is a food safety certification, which means we have third-party experts evaluate and verify our farm yearly to ensure we are implementing safe and sustainable practices. From chemical use to water management, we are vetted thoroughly to meet global standards. We are currently in our third year of GlobalG.A.P. certification and work hard every day to meet their needs.