Ventura County’s agricultural sector is a leading economic driver. The County has an opportunity to continue to support innovation and vitality in this sector through increased production of specialty agriculture, and utilization of Integrated Pest Management Strategies.
Ventura County’s Mediterranean-type climate allows for tremendous diversity of production with over 60 different crops that each generate over $1 million in gross receipts annually. The mild climate allows for significant crop production year-round allowing farmers to grow three and four crops annually in the same field. With that diversity, county farmers primarily grow “specialty crops,” defined as “fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, and horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture” by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Organic farming is a specialty agricultural sector regulated by the USDA and the Agricultural Commissioner. According to the USDA, organic operations must demonstrate that they are protecting natural resources, conserving biodiversity, and using only approved substances. In addition to increasing economic competitiveness, organic farming practices can result in fewer environmental impacts and help to maintain soil health. Organic farming emphasizes sustainable practices, including mixed-cropping patterns and crop rotation, which reduces water usage and maintains the soil structure.
Integrated Pest Management is an ecosystem-based strategy that focuses on long-term prevention of pests through a combination of techniques such as biological control, habitat manipulation, modification of cultural practices, and use of resistant crop varieties. Pesticides are used only after monitoring indicates they are needed according to established guidelines, and treatments are made with the goal of removing only the target organism. Pest control materials are selected and applied in a manner that minimizes risks to human health, beneficial and nontarget organisms, and the environment.
While Ventura County has a successful agricultural economic sector, the County’s agricultural lands can also be used to grow specialty agricultural crops, especially those aimed at the growing popularity of locally grown crops and animal products.