Healthy Soil, Healthy Region

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2018: $67,692.00
Projected End Date: 06/30/2019
Grant Recipient: Okanogan Conservation District
Region: Western
State: Washington
Principal Investigator:
Leslie Michel
Okanogan Conservation District


Not commodity specific


  • Education and Training: extension, networking, technical assistance, workshop
  • Natural Resources/Environment: carbon sequestration
  • Soil Management: soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: social networks

    Proposal abstract:

    A plethora of research into soil health indicates that agricultural practices that improve soil
    health can increase resilience to a variety of biotic and abiotic stressors, decrease reliance on
    synthetic inputs, and improve long-term economic sustainability. Promising practices which have
    long been studied include: keep it covered; do not disturb; increase diversity; add amendments,
    cover cropping, and residues; and re-integrate crops and livestock. However, producer adoption
    remains a challenge – not because they don’t want to improve soil health, but because of real
    economic, logistical, and other barriers. Additionally, producers need to see examples from
    others and better understand the economic implications of specific practices under their
    conditions before they are willing to adopt them.
    Funding for this project will bring agricultural professionals and key producers from
    Washington, Oregon, and Idaho together, with an overarching goal to give those who are
    providing information to farmers a tool box to support adoption of soil health practices.
    Attendees at the summit will include researchers to provide the most recent soil health insights
    and train professionals to use existing decision support tools. Producers will present at the
    summit, to share important on-the-ground insights. Attendees will engage in demonstrations, and
    dialog on the challenges, opportunities, and paths towards increased adoption of soil health
    practices. Information gathered during facilitated discussions will be synthesized and given to
    leadership to support and coordinate broader state-level efforts. Additionally, a toolbox will be
    developed and made available to attendees which will provide links and instructions on focused
    Our proposal builds on an existing collaborative regional process that indicated that moving
    forward soil health issues is a priority. Prior to the summit, a survey will provide additional
    insight on attitudes toward soil health research, services, and policies. This will inform facilitated
    conversations for the summit.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Our objectives are to:
    • Improve awareness of existing, new, and evolving regional soil health practices and
    projects to foster learning relating to innovative strategies that can be promoted and
    utilized by agriculture professionals.
    • Provide hands-on training on soil health practices, and familiarity with tools that can
    be used to support producer decision making related to soil health.
    • Improve understanding of the practical barriers to improving soil health and resources
    and opportunities for moving past those barriers.
    • Create a forum for state leaders to improve consensus about needs, priorities, and
    funding opportunities for collaborative regional efforts for the next five years around
    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.