[MUSIC PLAYING] MARK DOYLE: We've been very lucky on Fishkill Farms not to have any severe effects from the big storms of last year. But our neighbors have certainly had a lot of trouble across the river. In Ulster County, there was tremendous damage. And it's not only from the Irene storm and the hurricanes. It was also there have been wind and hail events throughout the last couple of years. And the October snowstorm knocked over a lot of trees as well and broke a lot of branches. So yes, there have been quite a few events that are quite severe. And we're seeing big swings on the rainfall side as well, between drought and prolonged periods of extremely heavy rainfall.
I think as an orchard we're very vulnerable. Our whole livelihood is on the line. As a fruit farm, we have a lot of crop that is dependent on the blossom occurring at the right time, pollination, not having severe hail events during the growth of the fruit crop. So yes, there's a tremendous risk throughout. And that's not to mention diseases and all the other downsides.
We've been lucky with the vegetable crop, for the reason that we produce multiple successions of the same crop. So we're marketing in the farmers markets and locally here on the farm and planting. Every two weeks, there's a new crop going in the ground. That means that we're spreading our risk quite dramatically. We also have some other bed shaping and soil working techniques that seem to avoid us getting into a situation where we can't get into the land and produce a crop.
We are gradually planning to deal with erratic weather events. The biggest thing that we've done so far is to put in an irrigation system. You can see around here the drip lines that are laid on the ground with the small trees. We actually succeeded last year in putting in a system that has the potential to irrigate the entire farm once we have all the blocks hooked up to it and the drip tape laid down in the orchard.
We are also gradually putting in a trellis system that will help support the small trees. We're going to a more dense format for the orchard. We have diversified water sources for our irrigation, for the same reason that we have so much rainfall variability.
And in addition to the irrigation, this now more affects the vegetable operation, but we're using greenhouses, because rather than having our entire tomato crop out in the field, we're putting a portion of it in a greenhouse. And then for the first time this coming year, we will grow some small fruit in a high tunnel. So a high tunnel looks a lot like a greenhouse. It's not heated. This is the difference. And it's really a three-season cover to regulate, number one, temperature variation, and number two, water or rainfall.
So from a farming point of view, I think the most valuable information we could get from Cornell is on varieties that will be adapted for the next 20 years of climatic variations, that would be best adapted as we are planting new blocks out every season. An issue that is perhaps most critical in adapting to climate change, and that is management. And it's not just the choices of what you plant and how you farm. It's also improving management strategies--
SPEAKER 2: Techniques.
MARK DOYLE: --and keeping a closer control on everything that you do on the farm.
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Mark Doyle of Fishkill Farms located in Hopewell Junction, NY discusses the impacts of extreme weather and climate variability on his farm. Fishkill Farms specializes in small fruit and works to practice agriculture sustainably. The Climate Smart Farming videos are produced by the Cornell Institute for Climate Change and Agriculture (CICCA) and ConservationBridge.