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Wheat in a field.

Reaching for the stars: one year into Washington’s Saving Tomorrow’s Agriculture Resources Program

In its first year Washington’s Saving Tomorrow’s Agriculture Resources (STAR) program has taken considerable steps towards creating a conservation assessment tool and related incentives, tailored to Washington agriculture and connected to scientifically-grounded environmental outcomes.

Sustainable Farms and Fields: Incentivizing Climate-Smart Practices and Soil Health

This fiscal year marked our second year of Sustainable Farms and Fields ongoing funding, and 25 projects were awarded to 16 conservation districts totaling $1.3 million. These projects are scheduled to wrap up soon and a full accounting will be provided in the SFF annual report this fall.

Soil Health Ambassador: Casey Vetsch—Biochar in Orchards

Quality Assurance Specialist, Casey Vetsch has been working with apples and cherries for the past four years. Casey helps manage approximately 7000 acres of orchard in the Yakima Valley.

A burning need for liming amendments on the Palouse

David Gady, a 4th generation Washington farmer, grows bluegrass (lawn seed) in Rockford with his brother and father. In the early 2010s, David became a biochar innovator in the region when he built a gasifier to convert bluegrass straw and seed screenings into biochar and energy.

Grounding Long-Term Soil Health Tree Fruit Research in Stakeholder Needs

Recognizing the importance of addressing these challenges, stakeholders from across the industry joined forces to shape the Tree Fruit Soil Health Long-Term Agroecological Research and Extension (LTARE) site in Wenatchee, WA. Through surveys, focus groups, and workshops, their input guided the development of this innovative research site that will provide a space to ask soil management questions for many years.

a person standing in a farm field.

Introducing the new WaSHI Agronomist

Adam joins the Washington Soil Health Initiative to support growers in efficiently managing their fertilizer and irrigation. Adam’s efforts will help reduce nitrate leaching, improve growers’ cost savings, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Washington.

What do I do with my soil test results? Making Chemical Soils Data Actionable

Adam Peterson has been running the Thurston Conservation District (CD) soil testing program for almost four years now, but he was a user of its services long before that.

Over ten years ago, while studying agricultural science and eager to connect what he was learning about nutrient management and nutrient cycling with real-life results, he decided to test a few samples on his family’s farm to understand how past practices had influenced the soil on site.

A plowed agricultural field under a clear blue sky, with traces of tire tracks from a recent compost application and a small red flag visible on the left.

High rate of compost application showed stable yields in dryland wheat systems: a long-term study.

Researchers are interested in learning about the effects of one-time applications of compost on the soil and crops. A long-term trial was established at the Wilke farm in Davenport, WA (close neighbors to the Dryland WaSHI LTARE site) to test the effects of different one-time rates of compost applications.

Three women examine biological plant specimens in a greenhouse, discussing over a document.

An actually actionable biological soil health indicator: Managing Fusarium wilt in spinach seed crops 

A few years after Lindsey du Toit began her faculty position at Washington State University in 2000, a spinach seed farmer walked into her office and dropped a 5-gallon bucket of soil on her desk. He simply wanted to know if his spinach seed crop would thrive or die from Fusarium wilt if he planted a seed crop in that field the following spring.

a field with blueberry plants.

Compost: Saving Soil Health, One Pile at a Time

With funding from the Sustainable Farms and Fields program, Four Elements Farm was able to improve soil health through compost applications.