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At Cook Farm Field Day, learn how healthy soil improves yields, ecosystem

WSU-based USDA-ARS soil scientist David Huggins speaks with farmers at a past Cook Agronomy Farm Field Tour. The event returns June 22, 2016.
WSU-based USDA-ARS soil scientist David Huggins speaks with farmers at a past Cook Agronomy Farm Field Tour. The event returns June 22, 2016.

Experts from the U.S. Department of Agriculture at Washington State University share the latest research on how soil health can improve farm profitability at the Cook Agronomy Farm Field Day, Thursday, June 22, in Whitman County, Wash.

Researchers at Cook Farm have been exploring soil health as part of a national, USDA-led focus on long-term research on agro-ecology.

Healthy soil improves yields, but it also does more than that, says David Huggins, a USDA-ARS soil scientist at WSU who organized the biannual field day.

“Performance goes beyond productivity to include diverse aspects of agriculture, including many ecosystem services,” he said.

The 2016 field day, “Building Agricultural Performance for an Uncertain Future,” includes a three-hour site tour, lunch, and a farmer-led discussion on soil health. Wayne Honeycutt, President and CEO of the newly established Soil Health Institute, speaks at noon on the future of healthy soils.

In morning and afternoon programs, more than a dozen faculty and student presenters will share research findings on precision agriculture, soil health, remote sensing, weather variability, field-scale hydrology, insects, wheat and disease, with a focus on wheat-based cropping systems.

A tour group explores test sites at the Cook Agronomy Farm Field Day.
A tour group explores test sites at the Cook Agronomy Farm Field Day.

A highlight of the morning program is the research of the interdisciplinary Regional Approaches to Climate Change project, or REACCH, as well as the Site-Specific Climate Friendly Farming (SCF) project, which works on win-win scenarios to ensure sustainable cereal production in the face of future uncertainties including changing climate.

In the afternoon program, “Taking it to the Pits,” researchers will discuss tremendous differences in soil health, diagnosed with new and existing tests, at four five-foot-deep soil pits in the field.

Cook Agronomy Farm is one mile north of Pullman on Highway 27, then 4.7 miles east on Whelan Road.

Partners on the tour include the USDA, WSU, the University of Idaho, and the Regional Approaches to Climate Change interdisciplinary team.

• To learn more, contact David Huggins, Northwest Sustainable Agroecosystems Research Soil Scientist, at (509) 335-3379 or by email at david.huggins@ars.usda.gov. Learn more about upcoming WSU Wheat and Small Grains events here.

 

Media Contacts

David Huggins, Soil Scientist, (509) 335-3379