Improving Soil Health by Educating Outreach Professionals in Washington State

Project Overview

ESP20-001
Project Type: Enhanced State Grants
Funds awarded in 2020: $23,031.00
Projected End Date: 09/30/2023
Grant Recipient: Washington State University
Region: Western
State: Washington
Principal Investigator:
Chad Kruger
Washington State University

Commodities

Not commodity specific

Practices

  • Crop Production: cover crops, crop improvement and selection, nutrient cycling, winter storage
  • Farm Business Management: whole farm planning
  • Natural Resources/Environment: carbon sequestration

    Proposal abstract:

    Soil health is increasingly of interest to Washington’s producers, food processors, policy makers, and the general public– as evidenced by the State Legislature’s establishment of the “Washington Soil Health Initiative” in 2019. This initiative will fund research and demonstration of soil health best management practices through a network of long-term agroecological research and extension (LTARE) sites across Washington state’s diverse agricultural systems, as well as a baseline assessment of soil health across the diverse soils, climate, and agricultural systems in Washington. Meanwhile, a regional conference held in 2019 “Healthy Soils, Healthy Communities,” provided some initial training on soil health for regional ag educators, but also provided evidence of a desire for continuing and more in-depth training opportunities to improve the capacity of agricultural professionals in Washington State to respond to inquiries related to soil health.

    This project will deliver soil health related information via in-person conferences, in-person/online seminars and discussions, and through direct producer-to-producer tours. The result will be increased knowledge of soil health practices, assessment tools, and implications of practices that degrade soil health as well an increased capacity for agricultural professionals to support producers. Subsequently, producers will increase adoption of practices that maintain or improve soil health.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    This proposal has three main objectives. First is to increase the knowledge of soil health principles and practices by agricultural professionals and producers. More specifically, knowledge increases will relate to definitions of soil health, factors that positively and negatively impact soil health, the current state of scientific understanding of soil health, and methods to asses soil health. Second is to improve the awareness of soil health. The audience for this objective includes agricultural professionals and producers, but also the environmental constituent and the general public. Last is to improve the technical capacity of agricultural professionals and producers regarding soil health. 

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.