Foster Creek Conservation District
Foster Creek Conservation District

Soil Health incorporates biological, chemical, and physical components that function together as one productive system. 

Healthy soil creates a fully functioning system that can provide many benefits for farming practices and the environment. By incorporating management practices that reduce the amount of disturbance to the soil, increase the amount of residue and plant cover left on the soil's surface, integrates different plant varieties, and focuses on keeping living roots within the soil, the soil's natural system will take over and beneficial organisms and processes will autormatically establish. Integrating soil health into farming management practices can increase crop productivity and profitability, creating a more sustainable farming practice for the future of your farm. Scroll to learn more about soil health in Central Washington.

The 4 Principles of Soil Health

Minimize Disturbance

Tilling soils can reduce the amount of water within the system, decrease microbial communities, and limit nutrient cycles. Limiting disturbance promotes aggregate stability and a healthy balance of, soil, air, and water.



Maximize Cover

Keeping the soil surface covered helps decrease water evaporation and soil erosion, while helping regulate the soil temperature and promote microbial communities.



Maximize Biodiversity

Incroporating different crops within a rotation, limiting fallow periods, and planting cover crops will increase the biodiversity of plants, nutrients, and mircrobial activity within that soil system.



Promote Living Roots

The longer a root is alive in the soil, the longer the soil's many components stay active.  Roots exude nutrients that microbial communities utilize to help promote an active root zone that benefits the soil and the plants.



Direct Seed Cost Share Available!

Are you interested in transitioning your operation to No-Till? Foster Creek has cost share available to help transition up to 250 acres.

VSP Producer Spotlight in Northern Douglas

Ryan Lefler interviewed Northern Douglas producer Norman Tupling, a Voluntary Stewardship Program work group member, who told us how his farm uses reduced tillage as a conservation practice, a method of voluntary stewardship.  A couple of years ago, Norman started no-tilling and is now switching the majority of his operation over and incorporating new twists to reduce his chemical use.

Running the Numbers for Direct Seed Production

Continuing our Direct Seed Cost Benefit analyses with our second WA Department of Ecology grant, Kate Painter PhD, Agricultural Economist at the University of Idaho, interviewed a further eight program participants about their direct seed (DS) and conventional tillage (CT) costs over the past two years. 

Soil Health Spotlight

View the numbers of the first soil health soil sample

Foster Creek implemented the first soil health testing in April 2021. Take a look at the results seen across the county form the various 29 fields enrolled within our program.

What is Direct Seeding?

Direct seeding refers to farming systems that fertilize and plant directly into undisturbed soil in one field operation, or two separate operations of fertilizing and planting. Only narrow strips of soil are disturbed by the equipment openers used to place fertilizer and seed in the soil without full width tillage. Much of the residue from the previous crop is retained on the soil surface. The reduced soil disturbance and retention of surface crop residues with direct seed systems provide improved environmental protection while maintaining or increasing soil productivity, and reducing production costs for farmers.


Source: Pacific Northwest Direct Seed Association (PNDSA)





Look for Direct Seed signs as you are driving around Douglas, Lincoln, Grant, and Okanogan Counties.  

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Foster Creek Conservation District 203 S Rainier Waterville, WA 98858 509-888-6372 © Foster Creek CD