Sustainable Practices and Technology

A Problem with Soil Inoculants

As I wrote in my last post, the focus and excitement around soil biology leads many to believe that they have a soil biology problem. To fix this perceived problem, some recommend trying various types of soil amendments or inoculants to enhance the soil’s microbial community. This includes compost, manure, and their extracts and teas. There is a problem with this strategy though; the microbes at home in manure, compost, or in their extracts, tend to die off in the soil.

Drawing of the environment selecting microbes for the conditions

Technology for Trade: New Tools and New Rules for Water Use and Allocation in Agriculture and Beyond

In the Columbia River Basin, as in other basins across the western United States, water allocation decisions and processes are important for making the most of naturally variable water resources for diverse instream and out-of-stream purposes. Tradeoffs inherently exist with so many competing uses for water, especially during drought years when available water is limited.

Figure of water use and governances

Deficit Irrigation Can Improve Fruit Quality for Hard Cider Producers

Growing up, I remember my grandfather bringing my family fresh Honeycrisp apples from his orchard in the Chelan area, describing the qualities that made them special. As an orchardist, my grandfather always strived to have delicious, high-quality produce coming from his orchards. My grandfather is not alone in this quest; growers across the state are looking for ways to enhance the quality of their crops.

Apples in a tree

Don’t Overthink Your Soil Biology

I am not sure of the causes. Perhaps it’s the demand for soil health information which far surpasses the supply of science-based content? Or maybe the speculation and exaggeration that this high demand produces? The intense focus on soil biology for soil health (Coyne et al. 2022) is surely a factor. And the excitement that comes with learning about the new discoveries in soil microbiology. Whatever it is, the results are clear.

diagram of practices and microbes interaction

Deficit Irrigation Conserves Water in Agriculture to Aid in Combating Water Stress

Washington State has nearly 15 million acres of farmland with around 39,000 operating farms, each producing necessary agricultural commodities. A few of the most well-known crops that are produced and distributed from Washington State are apples, cherries, hops, raspberries, and pears. Even when traveling across the country, I can find Chelan apples, which shows

Irrigation piping surrounds the base of a tree.