Abundant natural resources and an amenable climate allow for diverse agricultural opportunities in the Pacific Northwest, but the same environment also poses risks.
Farmers often adapt to low rainfall, highly erodible or shallow soils, fluctuating markets, production costs, and environmental concerns related to on-farm inputs. Some of these concerns are unique to a specific location, while others are universal to agriculture, but farmers have been able to farm successfully despite these challenges.
By adapting farming practices such as tillage, residue management, crop rotations, soil organic amendments and resource-use efficiency farmers have been able to overcome barriers, often in unexpected ways. Innovative approaches used by Pacific Northwest cereal farmers to improve on-farm sustainability and longevity are being featured in a series of case studies.
The goal of these case studies to inspire others to take management risks on their farms that can improve their overall sustainability and resiliency into the future. Future case studies are in progress and will focus on farmers who manage water in irrigated systems, tillage practices and residue management in unique ways.
Featured case studies
The embedded video player on this page contains a playlist of the following case studies:
Stripper Header: Highlights the experiences of a father-son team who use the stripper header and direct seeding to maximize water retention and residue retention in a low-rainfall area of WA.
Precision Nitrogen Application: Highlights the experiences of a fourth generation, no-till grain farmer for incorporating variable rate nitrogen technology into his farm management strategy in a high-rainfall dryland production region in ID. Access the video and full case study.
Enhancing Crop Diversity: Features a husband and wife team who have been able to improve soil health and moisture retention by diversifying to a 4-5 year crop rotation utilizing unconventional crops in a low-rainfall area in eastern WA. Access the video and the full case study.
Flex Cropping: Features a direct-seed, OR grain farmer who produces cash crops annually in a traditional wheat-fallow system using a flexible approach based on weather and markets. In addition to increasing the overall farm profit, this system has improved weed control and increased soil organic matter on the farm. Access the video and the full case study.
Mustard Cover Cropping in Potatoes: Demonstrates how a wheat-potato farmer has incorporated a mustard cover crop to act as a soil fumigant without destroying soil structure in an irrigated agriculture system in WA.
Conservation Tillage in a Winter Wheat-Fallow System: Explores tillage strategies used by an innovative farmer in an area that receives 11.5 inches of precipitation annually. These strategies include use of an undercutter sweep, and experimentation with a no-till winter wheat-fallow rotation.
Deficit Irrigation: Relates unique strategies used by an Oregon farmer to cope with water limitations. By providing wheat, corn, and alfalfa with less water than they would need to achieve maximum yields, but still enough to be profitable, this farmer saves water for the farm's most valuable crops, primarily potatoes and onions.
Strip-Tillage for Onions and Sweet Corn: Lorin Grigg: Discusses Grigg’s cover cropping and strip tillage strategy to protect onion and sweet corn seedlings from windblown sand near Quincy, WA.