The Whatcom Conservation District (WCD) hosted a Discover Soils and Manure Tour Field Day on April 26, 2016 at the James Dairy in Custer. The event was open to anyone interested in soil conditions, pasture health or the many facets involved in managing manure and nutrients on a farm. Over twenty attendees rotated through three stations; soil properties demonstration, soil field assessment and soil test Interpretation before heading on the manure tour, which highlighted good manure management practices on the farm.
Jason Morrow of WCD demonstrated soils under different management practices and conditions, and showed how soil type and management can influence infiltration rates, an important consideration when applying manure. He concluded with a demonstration of the water holding capacity of different soils types.
Following the soils demonstration, Nichole Embertson of WCD conducted a hands-on demonstration of how to gage the soil moisture of different soil types, and tied it to the on-farm ARM (Application Risk Management) assessment available to landowners. Participants then used soil probes to extract a sample at the tour site for discussion of how to improve soil health with different crop and pasture management practices.
The soils portion of the day concluded with David Haggith of N3 Consulting discussing important considerations when sampling a field for soil nutrient analyses and talked through the interpretation and significance of various components of a soil analysis report.
The real excitement began when Chris Clark of WCD guided the group through a manure tour, discussing the various management practices that help to assure manure produced on a dairy is utilized as a valuable resource.
Participants left with the tools they needed for assessing the soil health of their own farm as well as a personal relationship with the WCD farm planning staff. This was part of a series of field days held around the Puget Sound sponsored by the Washington Department of Agriculture.
For more information on the soil condition on your property and a free confidential nutrient management and pasture health assessment, call the Whatcom Conservation District at 360-526-2381 or visit our website at www.whatcomcd.org.