Foster Creek Conservation District
Foster Creek Conservation District

Soil Health Spotlight

The 20’s: A New Decade for Soil Health in Central WA

Central Washington wheat farmers can have many microclimates and soil units, even from one side of a field to another.

With another year behind us, everyone looks forward to a new year, new resolutions and goals. We at Foster Creek Conservation District have set multiple goals to continue providing the best programs we can for our district. This year, we’ve not just set goals for the next 12 months, we’ve set goals for the next ten years for our Direct Seed and Soil Health program! We’re aiming to bring together useful and relevant information for producers within our program and district, as well as for those in surrounding counties or areas who have complex farming conditions. By expanding our Direct Seeding cost share program, funded by the Washington Dept. of Ecology, to incorporate soil health management, we hope to help you build and improve soil health, maintain the viability of our agricultural industry, and create a more sustainable economy and future for Douglas and neighboring counties.

 

Farmers face complex microclimates, significant precipitation variability, multiple soil units per field, rough terrain, changing elevation and slope, and many other adverse management hurdles. Implementing successful management practices for soil health seems to be more complicated and challenging here than other areas in the world. The Decade for Soil Health will give us the chance to dive into our local soils and create a baseline of information for soil transitions as different management techniques are implemented. With the information gathered, we will create timelines for soil health benchmarks and establish localized techniques to help achieve a healthy, living soil community.

Healthy soil peds should feel light and porous in your hands. What does your soil feel like?

Soil health comes from an array of components within an ecosystem, and tells us about a soil’s quality, ability to function, and sustain plants, animals, and humans (NRCS). Soil is comprised of many singular parts that work together to form a healthy system above and below ground. However, it is not as complex as it might seem. Once a soil’s ecosystem is established, the majority of the labor is done by natural “workers” underground. A healthy soil ecosystem will then take care of itself under a variety of field management practices. Establishing a healthy soil for Central Washington will involve understanding that no system is exactly the same and that various techniques and timelines will be needed to bring about changes. When the soil’s ecosystem and microbial activity revive, many functions within that soil will improve, providing benefits to the surrounding environment like improving water quality for streams and wells, the farm’s productivity, and overall management costs. 

 

Through our Direct Seed and Soil Health program, we want to provide the most relevant information on the things YOU, as our producers and community members, want to learn about. Soil health is not always an easy topic to understand and implement, however, our Direct Seed and Soil Health program will nurture active connections between producers, landowners, community members, academic institutions, and agencies. We will arm you with the tools and information you need to start building your soil’s health when you are ready.

Follow Foster Creek CD’s journey of soil health in Central WA

Twitter @FCCDsoilhealth and Facebook @FosterCreekCD

What is Soil Health?

ePaper
An introduction to the components of soil health and the Direct Seed and Soil Management Program at Foster Creek CD.

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Learn more about soil health

Helpful Links to explore soil health 

No-till Farmer

Learn more about no-till in the drylands with articles, podcasts, videos, and more. Get involved with your local No-till community and stay up-to-date on no-till events near you.

WSU's CSANR

Stay connected to WSU's Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources and the many articles and other resources developed for this area. 

PNDSA

Learn more about the Pacific Northwest Direct Seed Association and their efforts of helping dryland farmers incorporate direct seeding and other Soil Health news.

Learn more from Gabe Brownand his approach:  Brown's Ranch, ND

Resources

The Benefits of Cover Crops during prolonged rain and flooding events
This two-page flyer designed by USDA-NRCS highlights the benefits of using cover crops including nitrogen fixation, weed control, erosion control, and applied nutrient capture.
Cover Crops and Prevented Planting_NRCS_[...]
Adobe Acrobat document [1.3 MB]
Cost Benefit Analysis Summary
Summary of results for Foster Creek CD's Direct Seed Program for 2018-2020
Cost Benefit Summary.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [129.2 KB]
Cost-Benefit Analysis : 2016-2018
Summary of results from Foster Creek CD's Direct Seed program,
Phase I - 2016-2018
Summary_for_distribution.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [651.9 KB]
Nitrate in Groundwater: How to keep your drinking water and wells healthy
Nitrate_Groundwater_Brochure.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [569.2 KB]
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Foster Creek Conservation District 203 S Rainier Waterville, WA 98858 509-888-6372 © Foster Creek CD