Category Archives: Sustainable Practices

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

Water for the Long Haul

By: Joye Redfield-Wilder
Repost from ECOconnect

2016 forecast will guide water management in Columbia River Basin
Ecology’s Office of Columbia River (OCR) has a mission to “aggressively pursue development of water supplies to benefit both instream and out of stream uses.”  Since 2006, the program has been building water resiliency in Eastern Washington, especially in response to changing climate and drought.
The 2016 Water Supply and Demand Forecast for the Columbia River Basin tells a story of Washington’s water future and is helping water managers to anticipate likely water needs across the Columbia River Basin over the next 20 years (2035). Continue reading

Flex Cropping – Storing More Carbon Under Challenging Environmental Conditions

Residues from more frequent cropping feed the soil by adding organic matter. Grower Bill Jepsen pictured. Photo: S. Kantor.

By Georgine Yorgey

Organic matter – the organic component of soil – is key to soil health. Organic matter serves as a reservoir of nutrients for crops, provides soil aggregation, increases nutrient exchange, retains moisture, reduces compaction, reduces surface crusting, and increases water infiltration into the soil. And organic matter is closely related to soil organic carbon, the carbon stored in organic matter. Soils with high levels of organic matter have higher levels of carbon, and consequently also benefit the climate by “sequestering” carbon that otherwise would be in the atmosphere.

Continue reading

Request for Papers: Special Issue on Climate, Agriculture and Food Systems

Editors at the journal Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems are welcoming submissions for a special issue on Climate, Agriculture and Food Systems. They are interested in multidisciplinary research that examines agrifood system responses to both projected and experienced climate changes. Editors are interested in all relevant submissions and request a 500 word (maximum) abstract of your planned contribution to the issue editors by February 15th, 2017.

Please contact Gabrielle Roesch-McNally (USDA Climate Hubs, groeschmcnally@fs.fed.us) or click call for abstracts for more information.

 

 

High Residue Farming Workshop for Irrigated Producers

By Georgine Yorgey

WSU Extension is hosting an upcoming workshop on the basics of High Residue Farming on November 30, 2016, 9:30-3:30 in Moses Lake. Details for those interested in attending are available here (lunch included if you pre-register by 11/22).

Onion planting into strip tilled rows, wheat cover crop. Photo by Darrell Kilgore.

Onion planting into strip tilled rows, wheat cover crop. Photo by Darrell Kilgore.

High residue farming is a term that covers a number of different specific farming practices, including strip-till and direct seeding. In all these systems, the amount of tillage is reduced in order to maintain crop residues on the soil surface. High residue farming provides a number of benefits, but two key ones include reducing wind erosion (and the need to replant sand-blasted crops) and reducing the amount of time and equipment needed to plant. It can also improve soil health, increase the amount of carbon stored in the soil, and in some cases increase the potential for double-cropping.

Intrigued and want to learn more? You can hear about strip tillage from a farmer who has used it for many years in this video. And you can see the operations he uses for strip tillage in onions here. 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

How useful are models anyway? An example, now open for public comment

By: Sonia A. Hall

Cover of the draft 2016 Long-Term Supply and Demand Forecast Legislative Report, currently available for public comment. Click image for link.

Cover of the draft 2016 Long-Term Supply and Demand Forecast Legislative Report, currently available for public comment. Click image for link.

Water, water everywhere… but will it continue to be there in the future? Will it be available when we need it? Or do we need to invest in projects or policies now, because the water in the future will not be the same as in the past? These are the issues that the collaborative research team working on the 2016 Columbia River Long-Term Supply and Demand Forecast are using models to address, at the direction of the Office of the Columbia River (OCR, part of the Washington Department of Ecology) and the Washington State Legislature.

Preliminary model results were presented at three public workshops in Richland, Wenatchee and Spokane in late June, and the draft report is available for public comment on OCR’s website until July 20, 2016. Continue reading

Climate Impacts to Water Conference- Jan 25-26 Skamania Lodge, Stevenson WA

Climate Impacts to Water 2017 PNW conference brief adMark your calendars for the Climate Impacts to Water Conference: Managing the Uncertainties of Water Supply and Quality in the Pacific Northwest taking place January 25-26, 2017.

This conference will focus on:

  • Regional projections of climate and water supply
  • Multiple facets of agricultural water management
  • Water conservation practices
  • Water quality
  • Water policy regulations and rights
  • Regional water projects, research and tools
  • Social science communication concerning water

Program, registration, abstract submittal information and additional details will be coming soon: www.cm.wsu.edu/climateimpactstowaterconference

This regional conference is being held at Skamania Lodge in Stevenson, WA on the Columbia River – only 45 minutes from the Portland (PDX) Airport.

For more information, please contact Liz Whitefield, WSU Outreach Coordinator, PAS at Liz Whitefield, e.whitefield@wsu.edu or 253-445-4562.

WSU Anaerobic Digestion Systems Field Day – June 9th, 2016

By: Brooke Saari

AD Field Day Flyer High ResResearchers at Washington State University, working with commercial partners, are hosting an upcoming field day to showcase anaerobic digestion and nutrient recovery technologies and the lessons learned over the past three years.

Anaerobic digestion (AD) is a biological process that breaks down materials in the absence of oxygen, resulting in solid and liquid products, and biogas. Together with nutrient recovery and other complementary technologies, this process can provide environmental, economic and social benefits while managing organic waste. Continue reading