Author: Chris Benedict, Washington Soil Health Initiative lead, Washington State University
Long-term Soil Health Research Across the State
About a month ago, a review panel discussed funding additional LTARE sites as part of WSU’s Washington Soil Health Initiative (WaSHI). These sites are the core activity of WSU in its role in WaSHI with the other two agencies, the Washington State Department of Agriculture and the State Conservation Commission. These sites represent major agroecological cropping systems or production zones and evaluate the business as usual alongside other treatments, including moonshot approaches to maintain or improve soil health. During the proposal development process, LTARE investigators reached out to associated industries and received input on what practices should be investigated.
The review panel decided to fund two additional sites on top of the four approved in 2021. The two new sites include a potato rotation experiment at the research facility at WSU Othello and a second dryland systems experiment at the WSU Wilke Farm. These two sites not only add to the geographic diversity of the LTARE network but will also add diversity to the questions asked and the solutions evaluated. The other four sites include: WSU Mount Vernon focused on potato rotations (featured in this newsletter), WSU Puyallup focused on organic vegetable production with integrated livestock, WSU Prosser focused on wine grapes, and WSU Wenatchee focused on tree fruit. Read more about the LTARE site network in the LTARE Site One-Pager.