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Jonathan Knutson, Forum Communications Co., Published December 25 2010

Statement says sunflowers sustainable, good for environment

Relax, eco-conscious companies and consumers. Sunflowers are sustainable and increasingly easy on the environment.

That’s the message of a new brochure, the “Sunflower Sustainability Statement,” released by the National Sunflower Association in Bismarck.

“The users (of sunflowers) are trying to be as environmentally friendly as possible,” says Larry Kleingartner, the association’s executive director.

The statement – written by association staff – explains some of the sunflower industry’s basic workings and describes how farming practices have changed to make sunflowers more sustainable.

Sustainability

Industry members of NSA and end users of sunflowers requested the statement because many consumers and major food retailers are scrutinizing sustainability from raw to finished product, the NSA says.

European interest in the issue particularly is important because Europe is a major market for U.S. sunflowers. For instance, Germany and the United Kingdom account for about two-fifths of U.S. exports of sunflower kernels, or seeds with the hulls removed, according to the NSA website.

Viable crop

Some of the statement’s key points:

The statement also says sunflowers use relatively little nitrogen, a key fertilizer, and that sunflower plants provide habitat for a number of bird species during the growing season.

There’s information on the transportation and processing of sunflowers as well.

Backed by research

Most of the statistics used in the statement come from research by the North Dakota State University Extension Service.

North Dakota is the nation’s leading producer of sunflowers.

The statement will be updated as more research becomes available and in response to further questions from customers, Kleingartner says.


Jonathan Knutson writes for Agweek