Science in Action to Improve the Sustainability of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Food Systems
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Perspectives on Sustainability - CSANR Blog
July 26, 2018
Organic agriculture in Washington State, as with the rest of the country and world, experienced continued growth in 2017, as we documented in our latest report. New records were reached for certified farms and acres in the state, as well as for farmgate sales of organic products. Certified acres rose 3% to 110,000 acres, representing about 0.8% of the cropland in the state. There were 892 certified farms (2.3% of farms in the state), 29 farms registered for transition, and an uncounted number of exempt organic farms (sales less than $5,000 per year). Apples experienced the largest growth, up 36% to >22,000 acres. This remains the most prominent organic crop in the state economically, accounting for about 12% of all bearing apple acres in the state and over 90% of the fresh organic apple production in the U.S. The number of organic dairies also reached a new high of 50, with a record number of organic dairy cows. There were declines in acres of organic wheat, corn, dry bean, blueberry, snap bean, and potato acreage, while acres of organic corn silage, asparagus, green pea, pear, cherry, and mixed vegetables went up. Total organic farmgate sales were in excess of $667 million, a 2% growth that was slower than previous years perhaps due to lower organic apple prices. Grant County remained the leader in organic farms, acres, and sales statewide, while Skagit County was tops in western Washington for organic acres and sales. The central Washington irrigated area has the most transition acres and will continue as the dominant area for organic agriculture in the state.
July 19, 2018
The BIOAg Grant Program is one critical way that the Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources carries out its mission improve the environment, increase farm profitability, and improve the human sustainability of agriculture and the food system. We use this program to incubate research and educational activities at WSU that advance the sustainability of agriculture in the state – enabling WSU faculty and partners to leverage significant additional external support to advance these goals. In addition, the Program has supported a number of graduate students who have and will pursue careers in academia, industry and community leadership with a focus on agricultural sustainability.
June 21, 2018
In non-irrigated areas that are too dry to support annual cropping, fallow (the practice of leaving land unplanted) preserves soil moisture for future crops. However, annual fallow combined with conventional tillage has resulted in a net decrease in soil carbon over time in our region, with negative impacts to soil health across large areas. And even when tillage is eliminated, it is very difficult to maintain soil carbon over time in a wheat-fallow system. For this reason, the impact of climate change on the frequency of fallow in crop rotations has important future implications both for soil health and for opportunities for carbon sequestration.
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