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Early 2015 drought loss numbers are coming in – Where is my crystal ball?

Posted by Sonia A. Hall | February 25, 2016

Originally published on Agriculture Climate Network February 22, 2016

Drought conditions across the western U.S. in August 2015. Source: U.S. Drought Monitor Map Archive http://bit.ly/1mW1DxL

Drought conditions across the western U.S. in August 2015. Source: U.S. Drought Monitor Map Archive http://bit.ly/1mW1DxL

There is little doubt that last year’s high temperatures and water scarcity—because of the warm, low-snowpack winter—had a significant economic impact on Pacific Northwest agriculture. A Washington Department of Agriculture (WSDA) preliminary report places losses at approximately $325 million statewide, based on an initial estimate. These numbers will change as better data roll in. Meanwhile, a study by University of California–Davis researcher Richard Howitt and colleagues places that state’s crop revenue losses due to drought at $900 million. While I have not found similar reports for Oregon and Idaho, these two states also felt the drought, particularly in Oregon.In an earlier post I described how knowing that a particular year’s weather is representative of future climate projections can give us a good sense of what may be ahead. To the extent that this is true, then a better understanding of the impacts last year’s conditions had on agriculture can give us a sense of what we can expect as the climate warms. And the diversity of growers’ responses and how effective they were can give us ideas about what strategies to try as the climate changes. Read more »

Filed under Climate Change
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The Promise of Agriculture

Posted by Elisha Ondov | February 23, 2016

This year CSANR sponsored registration for several WSU students to attend Tilth Producers of WA annual conference.  We have been posting reflections written by the students over the past several months. Please feel free to comment and give these students your feedback.

Elisha Ondov, student guest-blogger.

Elisha Ondov, student guest-blogger.

My name is Elisha Ondov (pronounced E-lie-shuh). I am a student at Washington State University who, in November 2015, attended my first Tilth Producers conference in lovely Spokane. There I was introduced to the wickedly cut-throat world of the farming industry as I felt a little misplaced. A lot of people I spoke to (mostly students at WSU) wondered what brought me, a civil engineering student, to the conference. They thought I was lost, and I think they were right.

My time at the conference was quite an enjoyable atmosphere, but you get out what you put into it. As a socially reserved civil engineering student, it was fairly limited through my perspective. I am not a businessman with a product to sell. I don’t do agricultural research in a lab. I have been living in dormitories, so no yard to cultivate, and every aspect of my life does not support a farming lifestyle from family to friends and finances. Read more »

Filed under Sustainability
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The “Sunset Review” Process of the National Organic Standards Board

Posted by David Granatstein | February 11, 2016

This post was written by Harold Austin, NOSB member and David Granatstein, WSU

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Photo: T. Psych via Flickr CC.

The Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (Public Law 101-624, Nov. 28, 1990) was passed to establish a uniform definition and regulation of organic foods in the U.S. The law provides the framework for development of a system for organic certification (7 USC Ch. 94, Organic Certification) for farms, processors, and handlers. The varied organic certification programs and laws in place prior to the national law typically contained lists of prohibited materials for use in organic crop and livestock production and in organic food handling and manufacturing processes, based on the general principle of natural is acceptable, synthetic is prohibited. The Federal approach called for establishment of a “national list” that would delineate “allowed synthetics” and “prohibited naturals.” If a natural material was not on the list, it was allowed; if a synthetic materials was not on the list, it was prohibited. This was meant to expedite the process of material review by only debating the exceptions, not each specific allowed natural.

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Filed under Community and Society, Organic Farming
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Lessons for the student and the grower in me

Posted by Griffin Berger | February 8, 2016

This year CSANR sponsored registration for several WSU students to attend Tilth Producers of WA annual conference.  We will be posting reflections written by the students over the next several weeks. Please feel free to comment and give these students your feedback.

Berger head shot crop

Griffin Berger, student guest-blogger.

My name is Griffin and I am a student at WSU majoring in both fruit and vegetables management and field crop management, and minoring in organic agriculture and horticulture. This year I attended the Tilth Producers of Washington Conference. The Tilth Conference is an event centered on sustainable agriculture and natural resources held in November that does not fail to deliver. The conference provides an environment for industry leaders, government agencies, educators, researchers, Ag companies, farmers, and students to have an open dialogue. The conference was a great place to share ideas, express opinions, and learn about upcoming and new ideas and technologies in the sustainable farming industry. Read more »

Filed under Sustainability
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It is time to know your CROPTIME!

Posted by Adekunle Adesanya | January 19, 2016

This year CSANR sponsored registration for several WSU students to attend Tilth Producers of WA annual conference.  We will be posting reflections written by the students over the next several weeks. Please feel free to comment and give these students your feedback.

Adekunle Adesanya, PhD student in entomology and guest-blogger.

Adekunle Adesanya, PhD student in entomology and guest-blogger.

In humans, after decades of research and innovation, it is still very tricky for medical practitioners to accurately predict a child’s delivery date. Though the doctors estimate delivery dates for expectant mothers, these dates are rarely exactly correct, despite the level of technology involved.

Predicting crop harvest time is not all that different from estimating due dates. Have you ever wondered how complex and challenging it could be to predict the precise harvest date of crops, especially for small scale farmers with limited resources to invest in specialized technologies to support on-farm decision making system? As with doctors and delivery due dates, farmers have an estimate of the time required for the plants to achieve some phenotypic attributes like flowering, fruit setting and ripening etc., but getting it exactly right is rare. This prediction is usually based on prior knowledge about the crop’s biology. However, plant growth and development is largely dependent upon elements of the immediate environment (temperature, light duration, humidity etc.). Thus, crop output in terms of quantity, quality, and timing is dependent on the micro-environment. Therefore for a typical small scale organic farmer, a big question is how to accurately and precisely predict the time period in which harvest is optimal. This is critical to meeting the volatile demand of customers in a timely way (CSA, food co-ops etc.). Read more »

Green Energy in a Blue Context: Taking Water into Account

Posted by Jaimi Lambert | January 14, 2016

This year CSANR sponsored registration for several WSU students to attend Tilth Producers of WA annual conference.  We will be posting reflections written by the students over the next several weeks. Please feel free to comment and give these students your feedback.

Jaimi Lambert, student guest-blogger.

Jaimi Lambert, student guest-blogger.

I am currently a graduate student at WSU earning a Master of Science degree in Agriculture.  My focus is on sustainable agriculture and soil science, so having the opportunity to attend the Tilth Producers of Washington annual conference was very exciting!

I was able to attend many interesting workshops including one discussing water use and irrigation management given by Dr. Troy Peters – a WSU Extension Irrigation Specialist/Associate Professor in Prosser, WA.  I looked forward to this workshop expecting to learn more about current water management knowledge and practices that I could use to help develop my fledgling research proposal that, if funded, would be my project for a PhD.  Well, I did learn basic irrigation set-ups, uses and maintenance tips for water use efficiency. I also realized that water use and management is connected to other sustainability issues, like energy use and food production. Read more »

Filed under Energy, Sustainability
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Linking the local food system: LINC Foods

Posted by Rachel Wieme | January 11, 2016

This year CSANR sponsored registration for several WSU students to attend Tilth Producers of WA annual conference.  We will be posting reflections written by the students over the next several weeks. Please feel free to comment and give these students your feedback.

 

Rachel Wieme,  student guest-blogger.

Rachel Wieme, student guest-blogger.

If you’ve been shopping for food or out to a restaurant in the past few years, you’ve probably noticed the “local food movement” taking effect – products or menu items advertised or labeled as “locally grown” or “made with local ingredients”.  As one of many facets of “sustainability” the local food trend has been going on for some time now. For example, the term “locavore” was named the word of the year back in 2007 (yes, it was really that long ago, although I had a hard time believing it too!)  Since that time, cities and towns across the nation have seen a rapid growth in the number of farmers markets and CSAs available to food consumers. Also increasing have been a number of Farm-to-Fork or Farm-to-Table type programs for restaurants and schools. While these type of direct marketing venues have been good for local economies, there are still plenty of challenges that small and mid-sized farmers face with these direct marketing systems, as well as constraints that consumers have to accessing the variety of products coming from farms in their region. Read more »

Filed under Food Systems
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Flow – what I learned about irrigation management

Posted by Alex Shih | January 7, 2016

This year CSANR sponsored registration for several WSU students to attend Tilth Producers of WA annual conference.  We will be posting reflections written by the students over the next several weeks. Please feel free to comment and give these students your feedback.

Alex Shih, student guest-blogger.

Alex Shih, student guest-blogger.

This year was my first time attending Tilth Producers Conference and what an experience it was! I feel almost silly to have never attended in years past; the thought of the people, workshops, and opportunities that I’ve missed is almost distressing. The 2015 Tilth Producers Conference wasn’t just the first conference of its kind that I’ve attended, it was the first conference I’ve ever gone to and so in terms of expectations I really didn’t have any. Having never gone to any conference prior to Tilth was, perhaps, a good thing: I entered the conference as a blank canvas, absorbed everything I could, and left dotted by a rich, colorful array of knowledge and information. Read more »

Filed under Sustainable Practices and Technology
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A Passion Sparked and Fostered

Posted by Brendon Anthony | January 5, 2016

This year CSANR sponsored registration for several WSU students to attend Tilth Producers of WA annual conference.  We will be posting reflections written by the students over the next several weeks. Please feel free to comment and give these students your feedback.

Brendon Anthony, student guest-blogger.

Brendon Anthony, student guest-blogger.

My name is Brendon Anthony, and I am currently pursuing a Master of Science in the Horticulture program at Washington State University. I have a passion for sustainable agriculture, and am constantly interested in how we can be developing better organic practices. I also run a non-profit organization called Harvest Craft, and we work with communities in third world countries to develop micro-farm businesses that are based on sustainable food production systems.

All this to say, the Tilth Conference, with all of its network, workshops, and wealth of information is my ideal place to glean insight and learn more about how I can effectively carry out my passion and career. It was such an honor to be able to attend this event, and I am very grateful to those who made this experience possible. Read more »

Filed under Community and Society, Sustainability
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A Reinterpretation of Values

Posted by James Gonzalez | December 17, 2015

This year CSANR sponsored registration for several WSU students to attend Tilth Producers of WA annual conference.  We will be posting reflections written by the students over the next several weeks. Please feel free to comment and give these students your feedback.

James Gonzalez, student guest-blogger.

James Gonzalez, student guest-blogger.

What do I consider “valuable”? How do I determine what has worth and what doesn’t? Am I really in such a position that I can assign value to things? These are questions that I asked myself after attending this year’s Tilth Producers of Washington Conference. My name is James Gonzalez and I am a junior majoring in both organic agriculture systems and viticulture & enology at Washington State University in Pullman.

This year marks the third time I have attended the Tilth Producers conference in Washington. The first time I attended was in Yakima and the second time was in Vancouver. Both of my previous adventures at the conference left me filled with both knowledge and questions; questions that would eventually provide me with insight. This year turned out to be no different. Read more »

Filed under Community and Society, Sustainability
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