Category Archives: Carbon & Soil Organic Matter

Spring is Coming! Reflections on Growing the AgClimate Network

By: Brooke Saari

“No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow” ~ Proverb from Guinea

Spring in the Pacific Northwest. Top Left: Skagit Valley Tulips, courtesy of Brooke Saari; Top Right: Apple Tree in bloom, courtesy Washington State University; Bottom Left: Cherry Orchard in The Dalles, courtesy of Oregon State University and Jan Sonnenmair Photography, Flickr CC 2.0; Bottom Right: Spring Daffodils, courtesy Brent M., Flickr CC 2.0.

Winter is in its final stages and spring is knocking on our door. As a Florida native living in Washington, I for one am ready for some sunshine, flowers and warmth! While I dream of that glorious spring, I’d like to reflect on what an impressive year of growth the Agriculture Climate Network experienced in 2016, and what we are shooting for over the next year. Continue reading

Summarizing Scientific Knowledge about Agriculture and Climate Change in the Northwest U.S. and Plotting a Roadmap for the Future

By Liz Allen

This white paper integrates stakeholders¹ recommendations with a review of current scientific information about climate change and agriculture in the Northwest U.S.
Image credits, clockwise from top left: Lower Lake Ranch Road Sunset, by Michael McCullough; Marysville Wind Turbines, by Amit Patel; Columbia Gorge Apple Orchard, by Oregon Department of Agriculture; Palouse Wheat Field, by Matt Olson. All Creative Commons by NC 2.0.

Back in March of 2016, a group of agriculture sector stakeholders– including researchers, policy makers and producers– met in Tri-Cities, Washington, for the Agriculture in a Changing Climate Workshop. The three-day workshop was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Northwest Climate Hub and National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Facilitators from the William D. Ruckelshaus Center were instrumental in supporting generative dialogue. Workshop participants worked together to define priorities for the future research and extension efforts focused on climate change mitigation and adaptation in the Northwest.

A newly released white paper synthesizes high-priority recommendations that were articulated by participants at the workshop. Continue reading

Request for Proposals from the USDA Northwest Climate Hub

Photo by Aaron Roth, NRCS. CC BY-ND 2.0

Photo by Aaron Roth, NRCS. CC BY-ND 2.0

The USDA Northwest Climate Hub is putting out a request for proposals (usda-northwest-climate-hub-rfp-fy17).

Contingent upon available funds the Northwest Climate Hub requests proposals to support our mission to serve farms, forests and rangelands in a changing climate. An estimated amount of $350,000 is available for approximately 5-10 projects. There are additional funds available (at least $50,000) to fund one proposal that is designed to assist the NW Climate Hub in serving Alaska, such as efforts focused on Alaska meeting its food security needs under climate change. The Northwest Climate Hub encourages applicants to seek matching funds from other sources that augment and leverage funds made available to support proposals through this Request For Proposals.

We look forward to your letter(s) of intent due 5 December 2016.

If you are interested in email updates on RFP news and other Hub news please sign up here on Google.

Holly R. Prendeville, PhD
USDA Northwest Climate Hub Coordinator
USDA Forest Service
Pacific Northwest Research Station

Biosolids – understanding benefits and risks

By: Georgine Yorgey

Biosolids being spread on agricultural fields. Photo: A. Bary.

Biosolids being spread on agricultural fields. Photo: A. Bary.

Biosolids? Yes, that means sewage sludge. Well, sort of. But before you say YUCK and click off the page, let’s start with what they really are: biosolids are the materials produced from digestion of sewage at city wastewater treatment plants. They are rich in plant nutrients such as organic carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus, and can be applied to wheat, alfalfa, and timber land for plant fertilization and soil conditioning. When biosolids are applied at rates that meet plant nutrient needs, farmers and researchers are seeing crop yields equal to or greater than those seen with synthetic fertilizer. Applying biosolids as fertilizer also allows them to be recycled for a useful purpose rather than disposed of in landfills or incinerated. Continue reading

The “But what about…?” Challenge – What we should be talking about, but aren’t (yet)

By: Sonia A. Hall

New Year's: Fireworks explode over Seattle Center in Seattle, WA from the iconic Space Needle. (Photo by David Conger / David Conger under Creative Commons License CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

New Year’s: Fireworks explode over Seattle Center in Seattle, WA from the iconic Space Needle. (Photo by David Conger / David Conger under Creative Commons License CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

We have just wrapped up 2015, a year where we discussed agriculture’s contributions to a changing climate, and what the sector suggests for solving the problem. We’ve had lots of discussion about drought, dust bowls, water shortage, heat stress, changes in the growing season, and other signs of what’s to come. We’ve blogged about the resources that we need to conserve because they are key to adapting to a changing climate, like soils and water. And we had a suite of posts about tools—mainly modeling tools, since it’s hard to study the future any other way (at least for now). Think back to when you read all these blog posts. Did you ever have the urge to interrupt with “but what about…?” Well, here’s your chance. We at are asking you to send us those burning “But what about…” questions. Here’s why. Continue reading

Videos Farmers Can Use: Roots, Root hairs, and Fertilizer Placement

Reprinted from: REACCH

issacmadsenAfter years of watching canola grow with novel scanner equipment, Isaac Madsen shares the important relationships between canola roots and fertilizer in a short video.

To learn more, watch the video on the REACCH Research Seminar Series in Climate Change and Agriculture youtube channel or below.

This research is a great way to get ready for winter since harvest is getting finished early this year. It is also an excellent introduction to the increasingly popular alternative crop of Canola.

Isaac is a doctoral candidate in the Washington State University Department of Crop and Soil Sciences working with Dr. Bill Pan.


Videos Farmers Can Use: Stripper headers in extra-dry dryland agriculture

Reprinted from: REACCH

After years of field tests, in dry years and good years, Lauren Port shares her findings on stripper headers and benefits to soil moisture content. She claims that the work at the Ralston Project, near Lind and Ritzville, Washington, is “pushing no-till to its limits” by growing tall cereal crops.

To learn more, watch the video on the REACCH Research Seminar Series in Climate Change and Agriculture youtube channel or below.

Lauren is a masters student in the Washington State University Department of Crop and Soil Sciences working with Dr. Frank Young and Dr. Bill Pan.


Can the Soil Save Us?

Thumbnail for 90329By David Schmidt

Reprinted from: Animal Ag

It is good to be part of a team.

Crystal Powers, University of Nebraska Agricultural Engineer and AACC project coordinator will be helping with blog posts this year (as will be others on the team). She is starting with the first in a series of thoughts on SOILS!

The UN General Assembly declared 2015 to be the International Year of Soils so let’s kick off the year exploring how soil may be the most underrated ally in fighting climate change. Several organizations are getting involved in this educational campaign including the Soil Science Society of America. Continue reading

Have we drastically underestimated the productive capacity of plants?

By Chad Kruger

Reprinted from: WSU CSANR Perspectives on Sustainability

A new paper published in Environmental Science & Technology (DeLucia et al., 2014) suggests that scientists have drastically underestimated the earth’s theoretical potential to produce biomass – by as much as 2 orders of magnitude! That’s going to take a minute to wrap my mind around.

Thumbnail for 15383Thumbnail for 15383

Continue reading

When MANAGING for soil carbon really pays

By Chad Kruger

Source: WSU CSANR Perspectives on Sustainability

In August I published a post describing one mechanism by which increasing soil organic carbon (SOC) can lead to direct financial benefit on irrigated farms. In that particular example, the agronomic value of the carbon could be more than 10X greater than the potential value of a “carbon credit”. While it’s clear that there are general benefits to increasing SOC, in reality the specifics of each situation, such as the climate, soils, and management system, will all have an impact on monetizing any benefit. In this post I’ll examine a different case example published by some of my colleagues working at the WSU Cook Agronomy Farm, a dryland wheat farm near Pullman, Washington. Continue reading