Thursday, December 29, 2016

Seeking farmers in Palouse watershed to help improve environment

A conservation stewardship program spearheaded by the Palouse Conservation District aims to enroll thousands of acres of land into conservation programs that keep working lands working in an environmentally friendly way. The Palouse River suffers from a variety of water quality problems including low oxygen, too much bacteria and high temperatures.

Millions of dollars are available to Palouse-area farmers for making on-the-ground improvements that benefit soil, water and fish and wildlife habitat. Farms in the Palouse watershed are eligible to sign up for a program designed specifically for landowners and agricultural operators in portions of Whitman, Spokane, Adams and Lincoln counties and Latah County, ID.

The voluntary, incentive-based practices that qualify for the program’s funding can help reduce erosion and protect clean water. The program will provide a total of $11 million through the next five years for projects including installing more than 250 acres of streamside vegetation, placing 520 acres of land into agricultural conservation easements and getting 45,000 acres of land enrolled in conservation tilling that also qualifies for the Pacific Northwest Direct Seed Association's Farmed Smart program.

Farms can sign up for the program through Feb. 3, 2017 by contacting their local conservation district or program coordinator Tami Stubbs by email, or phone, 509-332-4101 x 111.

By Brook Beeler, communications

Direct seeding allows farmers to place seeds into last year's
stubble and apply fertilizer in one pass. Less tilling helps
reduce erosion. Photo: Palouse Conservation District

Crops that have been seeded directly into stubble poke through
the soil and crop residue.
Native trees have been planted adjacent to the stream and provide
a buffer to prevent farm chemicals and soil from entering the water.

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