What have we learned about dryland cropping systems in the last 15 years?

July 13, 2017
By Georgine Yorgey

Dryland crops are a common sight east of the Cascades, and cover a LOT of acreage in the Pacific Northwest – more than 5.8 million acres according to recent statistics. Over the last three years, a group of us at CSANR have had the privilege of working with more than 40 co-authors (!) from our region’s three land grant universities – WSU, University of Idaho, and Oregon State University – and from USDA Agricultural Research Service to summarize the most up-to-date scientific knowledge about our region’s dryland systems. That work has now been published as a book, Advances in Dryland Farming in the Inland Pacific Northwest. With touchstone chapters on climate considerations (which has always played a predominant role in determining what crops can be grown) and soil health, this wide-ranging book has chapters on conservation tillage systems, residue management, crop intensification and diversification, soil fertility management, soil amendments, precision agriculture, weeds, diseases, and insects, and policy. We invite you to explore the books many chapters online here or download the entire book as a PDF. If you know you will want to read this book and refer to it over time, you can also receive a free printed version as long as funds allow, by ordering here.

The effort to produce this book, and its printing, was made possible with the support of the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture through the REACCH project. This six-year project aimed to enhance the sustainability of Pacific Northwest cereal systems and contribute to climate change mitigation.

2 comments on “What have we learned about dryland cropping systems in the last 15 years?”

  1. Chrys Ostrander said on July 13, 2017:

    Much is wrong about how dryland farming is being done in the Pacific Northwest. From over-use of chemical herbicides and ammonium nitrate fertilizer to the growing of GMO varieties of canola and over-bred strains of grain. Hopefully, the permaculturist can glean from this new book information that will be helpful in transitioning northwest dryland farming into the oasis of diversity and abundance it can still become. We must accept the fact that a considerable amount of PNW dryland acreage should be allowed to return to a natural state (zone 5 in permaculture-speak – look it up), but much of the Pacific Northwest’s dryland acreage can be transformed from a farming approach dependent on which government program pays the bills for which monocrop to an approach based on which polyculture feeds the most people of the region. It’s a change in the economc model for PNW dryland agriculture. Can it happen?

    • Georgine Yorgey said on July 18, 2017:

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts Chrys! We’ve put a copy in the mail to you, and hope that you find it helpful.

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