Combined Soil Quality Workshops for Irrigated Ag
CSANR Project 110
Columbia Basin farmers and the people that supply and support them are very interested in how to build soil quality (a BioAg priority area) in irrigated cropping systems. The WSU irrigated ag email system has 433 subscribers to the soil quality/health topic area, more than all but one of the 42 available topics. We have held several successful Building Soils for Better Crops workshops in the past as well as a series of high residue farming workshops. Both efforts have stressed soil quality. Now, to better serve this clientele we want to offer a 3-day series of workshops covering several aspects of building soil quality. The first day would cover soil organic matter (the basis of soil quality), Soil C and N cycles, and soil management principles. Then, building on these principles, we would offer a full day workshop on using cover crops and green manures to build soils. Finally, as a method of both building and conserving organic matter, the third day workshop would cover the basics of high residue farming. Attendees will be able to choose to attend any combinations of workshops that they desire. This series of workshops would take place on consecutive days in December, at the Advanced Technologies Education Center of Big Bend Community College in Moses Lake, WA.
Additional Funds Leveraged
$5000 from the Columbia Plateau PM10 project was used to cover speaker travel expenses.
Impacts and Outcomes
We have both quick responses (TurningPoint) and a written survey responses from those who attended this conference. The results are below.
62% gained information about soil building principles
52% gained knowledge on measurement of soil health/quality
54% gained knowledge on use of soil amendments
73% of the farmers in attendance had increased their use of soil building practices in past five years impacting 82,250 acres.
67% said that previous WSU education programs on soil quality had led to increased use of soil building practices.
Farmers using soil building practices estimated that they are seeing an average of $22/ac benefit from soil building, or $215,356 benefits per year on the acreage represented by our survey respondents.
The top benefits that farmers are seeing are better soil tilth, less wind erosion, improved water infiltration, and better water holding capacity. These benefits are evident on 13,360 acres (farmers) and 17,177 acres (crop consultants).