Our family started farming in the Imperial Valley in 1946 to produce alfalfa for the family dairy. Geographically, the ranch is rare in the Imperial Valley as the entire farm is in one location. As the ranch expanded, we have learned to understand the needs of the individual fields and adjacent properties. At Osterkamp Farms, our priority is improving the land through conservation. We have had three fundamental missions of stewardship: land preservation, water conservation and wildlife protection.
My father and grandfather always stressed, “The land is forever.” Through the generations, we have set up programs to support land leveling, deep tillage, tile installation, and aggressive water management providing for continuous improvement of the property. Through these successes, we continue to invest heavily in the health of the land for future generations. Aggressive pest management, along with constant monitoring improves the yield and crop diversity. Our team monitors every crop and the surrounding perimeter for weeds or insects. Our year-round programs prevent damage or infestation in the current crop, while maintaining the health of future crops.
After 74 years in the Imperial Valley, the land has given to our family and all the families who have worked on this farm. Its only ours until the next generation, leaving something better than it was will remain our mission.
Throughout the years, we have understood the importance of water management. For over 40 years, we have kept detailed records of water events and usage. We have learned over time how to manage and move water for sequential irrigation to prevent waste. In the 1990’s we built our first 243-acre Tail water recovery system. These systems have proven to improve yields, save water, save labor, save fertilizer, prevent erosion, and prevent off-site impacts. Since 2016, we have built 3 more systems totaling over 1100 acres of Tail Water Recovery System. In 2004 we began to level between the borders on every alfalfa and Bermuda grass field, which had led to incredible savings in water and irrigation time. Since 2006, we have bought much more sprinkler pipe to allow longer periods of use begin experimenting in long term sprinkler use. We have been implementing the use of sprinklers for longer durations and reducing flood irrigation. We are now experimenting with different sprinkler spacing and nozzle types to reach peak efficiency with sprinkler irrigation. Our most progressive project is a hybrid Tail water recovery system which has been operational since 2017. Conserved water from the adjacent fields fill this 32-acre reservoir. With 100% conserved fresh water, the reservoir distributes water on demand to the adjacent fields. Water is undoubtably the most valuable resource in farming.