Category Archives: Event Announcements

How will climate change affect pests of inland Pacific Northwest cereal systems?

By Karen Hills

Models suggest that climate change in our region will involve an annual temperature increase of 3-4°F by the 2050’s, accompanied by changes in precipitation patterns, including drier summers despite a 5-15% increase in annual precipitation (Kruger et al. 2017). Even with this information, uncertainty still exists about what climate change will mean for agriculture, in general, and for dryland farming systems in our region, in particular. The book Advances in Dryland Farming in the Inland Pacific Northwest, does its part to help managers make decisions despite this uncertainty. Continue reading

Tillage– When Less Is More

By Karen Hills

Figure 1. Two spadesful of soil, showing different levels of soil aggregation, in conventional and reduced tillage. Soil aggregation is one measure of soil quality. (Source: Bista et al. 2017; Photo credit: R. Ghimire)

Though severe erosion can quickly deplete topsoil, rebuilding topsoil is an extremely difficult and slow process, so conserving this resource is imperative. Soil erosion is one of the biggest challenges in agricultural production in the inland Pacific Northwest. Conventional tillage can lead to soil degradation and erosion by wind and water, which can cause concerns for air and water quality, respectively. Conservation tillage—a tillage system which retains residues from the previous crop on the surface, resulting in at least 30% coverage of the soil surface after the planting of the next crop—can dramatically reduce soil erosion. It also offers other benefits, such as improvements in soil quality (Figure 1) and reduced fuel use, allowing it to be widely adopted in some parts of the region. There are many types of conservation tillage used in the Pacific Northwest, which offer different levels of protection of the soil, all the way up to no-till, which results in minimal soil disturbance and maximum retention of soil residue. Continue reading

Variability and Scale: Considerations for Precision Agriculture

By Karen Hills

It is human nature to be entranced by the latest electronic gadget that is promised to make our lives easier. Sometimes gadgets really do help us, and other times this help is counterbalanced by the hours spent trying to troubleshoot when things go wrong. Because I’m not really a “gadget person” by nature, I must admit that I hadn’t paid a whole lot of attention to precision agriculture during my time working in the world of agricultural research. However, I recently had the opportunity to learn more about this topic while helping to compile and edit the book Advances in Dryland Farming in the Inland Pacific Northwest. By reading the chapter on Precision Agriculture co-authored by Bertie Weddell, Tabitha Brown, and Kristi Borrelli, I learned about some of the most important factors to consider when it comes to the use of precision agriculture technology: variability and scale. Continue reading

Diversification where it isn’t easy: Beyond the grain-fallow rotation

By Karen Hills

Diversifying crop rotations is a key strategy used to break pest and disease cycles and improve yields. But in the driest areas of the Pacific Northwest the low precipitation amounts limit the diversification strategies that are feasible. These areas have some of the least diverse cropping systems in the region, often with winter wheat as the only crop. In areas receiving less than 16 inches of precipitation a year, that are generally too dry to support annual cropping, producers rely on summer fallow to retain winter precipitation in the soil profile. Areas where over 40% of the land a given year is fallowed are classified as grain-fallow cropping systems. From 2007 to 2014, only 4.3% of these areas, on average, were planted to another crop besides winter wheat (Kirby et al. 2017). What opportunities exist for diversifying crop rotations in these low diversity areas? In my work compiling the recently published Advances in Dryland Farming in the Inland Pacific Northwest, I learned one answer to this question: winter peas. Continue reading

National Climate Assessment Draft Report Open for Public Comment

Public Comment Period for National Climate Assessment

The National Climate Assessment is a U.S. government interagency report that summarizes the impacts of climate change on the United States, now and in the future. These reports are extensively reviewed by the public and experts, including federal agencies and a panel of the National Academy of Sciences.  The draft report has been completed, and is now available for public comment.

You can review and comment by visiting review.globalchange.gov before Jan 31!  Here’s the associated Federal Register Notice.

A series of webinars will be held to familiarize folks with the NCA and the Review & Comment website, we’re hosting a series of webinars including:

  • Wednesday, Dec 6, 5pm EST
  • Tuesday, Jan 16, 8pm EST

Webinar link: https://icf.globalmeet.com/NCAProjectWebinar
Call-in: (605) 475-5606
Passcode: 9663019548#

Building momentum for tackling climate change in the Northwest

By: Gabrielle Roesch McNally

Eagle Creek Fire: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 Curtis Perry

2017 has certainly been a year of extremes, from record breaking rain and snow events to a long and dry summer across much of the Northwest. Dry and hot summer conditions were accentuated by massive forest fires across the West, many that impacted urban areas in ways not recently experienced  (e.g., Eagle Creek Fire outside Portland, OR), costing the country over $2 billion in suppression costs this year alone. Add in the catastrophic impacts of Hurricane Harvey, Irma, and Maria and you know how much extreme weather is on everyone’s minds. Continue reading

Webinar Series: Advances in Dryland Farming in the Inland Pacific Northwest

 

In this series of webinars, scientists present timely information aimed at helping farmers and agricultural professionals interpret the results of recent research on dryland cereal systems in our region. This webinar series stems from the new book Advances in Dryland Farming in the Inland Pacific Northwest, a publication of the six-year Regional Approaches to Climate Change (REACCH; www.reacchpna.org) project, aimed at increasing the sustainability of dryland farming. All times listed are PST.

Webinars are free and no pre-registration is required. Each webinar will be 1 hour long, including Q & A session. Continue reading

News Release: 26th Annual Family Foresters Workshop

By Chris Schnepf

26th Annual Family Foresters Workshop
to be held Friday, January 19, 2018, in Coeur d’Alene, ID

Family-owned forests are vital to the economy and quality of life in the Inland Northwest. These lands are critical for wildlife habitat, timber supply, water quality, and many other values. Unique skills are required of foresters and other natural resource professionals who help family forest owners manage their property. The Family Foresters Workshop is designed to strengthen the skills of consulting foresters, state-employed service foresters, and other natural resource professionals who work with family forest owners. It serves as a forum to provide updates on emerging technology and knowledge applicable to family forestry.

This year’s program will be held at the Coeur d’Alene Inn (located off Interstate 90 at Hwy 95 exit) on Friday, January 20, 2017, Continue reading

Impacts and tools for dryland farmers adapting to climate change

By Liz Allen

As climate and agriculture researchers we’re constantly learning from farmers who we interact with. Our conversations with dryland wheat producers in the inland Pacific Northwest have shown us that many farmers are very skilled at managing for multiple risks at once and making decisions under various kinds of uncertainty. Climate models project substantial warming by mid-century (Figure 1) as well as more frequent storm events and more extreme minimum and maximum temperatures in the future. At the same time, a higher concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere may contribute to more rapid crop growth.  As more detailed and sophisticated models of climate change and crop dynamics are developed, it is increasingly clear that managing under observed and projected climate change impacts will require new perspectives for farmers and other agriculture sector decision makers. Those involved in agriculture will need to develop their understanding of climate-related hazards and poise themselves to take advantage of emerging opportunities linked to a changing climate.

Figure 1. Cumulative growing degree days (base 32°F) 1971–2000 (left) and 2040–2069 represen¬tative concentration pathway (RCP) 8.5 (right), projections obtained from the AgClimate atlas. See the Climate Considerations chapter in Advances in Dryland Farming in the Inland Pacific Northwest for more information on how to interpret projections like this. (Source: Kruger et al. 2017)

Continue reading