Saturday, February 3, 2018

Funds help farmers prevent soil erosion and protect air quality

Dust isn’t just a nuisance. It can cause severe air quality problems especially in Eastern Washington where hot, dry weather can make soils vulnerable to extreme windstorms. Dust storms can make it difficult to breathe and impair vision causing driving risks.
Satellite imagery shows dust suspended in the air over
Eastern Washington during a severe wind storm.

In an effort to prevent soil erosion and windblown dust from farmland, we’re partnering with the Benton County Conservation District to provide incentives for air-friendly farming practices in three Eastern Washington counties.

We’ve awarded the district a one-time grant of $163,000, to make available to farmers who want to convert land currently in the federal Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) to active production using “low disturbance” farming practices.

Many farms currently enrolled in CRP in Klickitat, Benton and Franklin counties aren’t likely to be eligible for re-enrollment this year. We recognize the valuable environmental protection that CRP has provided and want to work with farms to keep soil where it belongs -- on farms.

Qualifying low disturbance options could include:

Direct seed equipment drive seeds right into
the ground, reducing the need to stir up soil
and exposing it to wind. 
  • Direct seed or mulch-tilling
  • Livestock and/or hay production
  • Enrolling land in conservation easements
  • Providing wildlife habitat

Low disturbance farming practices don’t just benefit air quality by preventing dust. Methods like direct seed can reduce the amount of field tilling and improve soil health by increasing organic matter and earthworm activity. Less tilling also results in a significant reduction in fossil fuel use and keeps carbon sequestered in the soil.

For more information or to determine if you might qualify for the incentive contact your local conservation district: To learn more about direct seed visit the Pacific Northwest Direct Seed Association and the Farmed Smart program.

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