Capital Press | Special Sections Capital Press Tue, 3 Mar 2015 21:56:42 -0500 en Capital Press | Special Sections Energy Trust lends a hand with irrigation efficiency Mon, 9 Feb 2015 14:24:14 -0500 LACEY JARRELL More consistent water application can mean greater water and power savings for large- or small-scale farmers.

According to Luke Robison, manager of Shasta View Irrigation District in Malin, Ore., when Shasta View installed a variable frequency drive at its seven-pump district station, it allowed them to stabilize water pressure and reduce water fatigue on the delivery system.

He said the device, installed with help from an Energy Trust of Oregon cost-share program, reduced the district’s operating pressure by nearly 20 percent and reduced irrigation costs by about $60,000 annually.

Robison noted the pressure reduction didn’t make less water available, but it allowed water managers to distribute the water more efficiently. He said the VFD works like a cruise control, automatically compensating for pump variation and changes in pressure.

Robison said Energy Trust covered roughly half of the $216,000 project.

Doug Heredos, Energy Trust program manager for agriculture, said the Shasta View project is considered larger than average, but it’s not uncommon for the organization to pay 50 percent of VFD projects.

Energy Trust’s irrigation incentives are designed to encourage farmers to grow crops more efficiently with less energy, he added. Water savings can be an additional benefit, along with labor and fuel savings.

“Oftentimes, the water, labor and fuel savings are just as valuable to the grower as the energy efficiency benefits,” Heredos said.

Seus Family Farms owner Scott Seus, said he has installed in several on-farm VFD pumps on his wells in Oregon and California.

“That’s where you save because you can fine tune the settings,” he said.

“Instead of the old way, which was just go turn on a switch and what you get is what you get, you can change the setpoint to how many gallons per minute you are pulling,” Seus said. “You only draw out of the ground what you are actually using.”

Farmer Gary Derry said in most cases one VFD provides enough to flexibility to achieve farm goals. He explained that the pump can be programmed to compensate for full-demand or partial deliveries, depending on farm needs. Derry said most irrigation systems run on maximum pressure, meaning water is commonly over-pumped.

“You only have one speed — it’s on or off,” Derry said. “With the variable speed you’re more consistent with what you do pressure-wise and water delivery-wise.”

Derry noted that even with a cost-share program, VFDs are expensive to buy and maintain. He advised understanding immediate farm needs and long-term goals before investing in large projects like these.

Most Energy Trust customers work directly with local irrigation vendors, according to Heredos. He said the collaboration helps farmers identify the size and type of VFD they need and it helps ensure it will meet the efficiency standards to qualify for an Energy Trust incentive.

Seus said for farmers, electricity and water will always be inextricably linked.

“We benefit by producing better crops, by using better distribution uniformity, and using the water where it’s needed, when it’s needed — with the lowest cost of energy,” he said.

District ‘drives’ to improve water uniformity, efficiency Mon, 9 Feb 2015 14:23:19 -0500 Erick Peterson A major cost of irrigating cropland is the electricity used to pump water, and the Benton Conservation District in Washington state provides financial incentives to help farmers reduce their power costs and save water.

The district recently paid $50,000 in cost-share assistance for a 1,000-horsepower variable frequency drive for the water pump. The drive changes the frequency of the electricity going to the pump, changing the speed it operates.

The drive was installed at the start of the last growing season.

The drive represents a major step forward, Mark Nielson, Benton Conservation District director said, as it helps maintain an otherwise difficult balance.

“In the old days, if you have too many pivots, your pressure would drop and you would get poor water uniformity,” Nielson said. “Conversely, if you have too many pumps running, you have too much water pressure and that chews up energy.”

The variable drive speeds up when more pivots are running and slows down as pivots are shut off, thereby maintaining optimal water pressure in the pivots.

“And the more you uniformly you apply water, the more water savings you create,” said Heather Wendt, assistant manager of the Benton district.

This is good for savings and conservation, she said.

The district installed the drive on Berg Farms, in the Horse Heaven Hills in Benton County. It saves an estimate 646,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity annually, she said.

After “minimal fine-tuning,” the landowners were pleased, she said.

“They love it,” she said. “They’re thrilled with it.”

When the drives were first developed, they were most common in locations such as the Horse Heaven Hills, where water had to be lifted from rivers. They were not often used in the nearby Yakima Valley or Franklin County, where canals carry water to farms.

Now, as their prices have dropped, the drives are becoming more common, Nielson said.

“You’re seeing these more often in places,” he said, “and we’re happy to help with them.”

Effort returns year-round flow to Idaho creek Mon, 9 Feb 2015 14:22:38 -0500 Hear Smith Thomas An effort that began last fall will make Carmen Creek near Lemhi, Idaho, a year-round stream again, aiding fish passage and helping ranchers receive the irrigation water they need.

Dan Bertram, project manager for the Upper Salmon Basin Watershed Program, is working on the effort, which involves moving the point of irrigation diversion for two ranches.

This will allow a minimum of 1.2 cubic feet per second to be transferred down Carmen Creek from a nearby ditch, making it a perennial stream again, Bertram says. In the past, part of the creek went dry almost every summer during irrigation season.

Bill Slavin is one of the ranchers involved.

“Our water has always come out of Carmen Creek. ... We’ve had trouble with some of that ground the ditch goes through, with a lot of subdivisions,” Slavin says.

“Those people think it’s like a faucet they can turn on or off whenever they want, rather than according to their water right,” he explained.

Their erratic use makes it hard to regulate the amount downstream, he says.

The ranchers do most of the work to maintain the ditch.

“Everyone tried to get together in the spring to do some maintenance before we turn water on, but then it was up to ranchers to adjust the headgate when the creek went up or down. We end up doing the work and they get the benefit. They are on the front end of the ditch and we are on the tail end,” he says.

“That’s the main reason we looked into this change to sprinklers instead of flood irrigating. We will be able to rely on how much water we’ll actually have, and when,” Slavin says.

“Before, we’d set a dam, but when we come back either the water is not there, or it’s a lot more than we expected because screens on the subdivision sprinkler systems hadn’t been cleaned and are plugged up. Then all the water would come down to us. My ground is steep, and this could wash the hillside away,” he says.

“Now we’ll have to deal with pumps and more mechanical problems, but we should be able to get a better crop,” he says.

The project will pump water to Bill and Derrold Slavin from a canal on Big Flat.

“This will allow more flow to stay in Carmen Creek — from our headgate on down to the river. This was what was attractive to people interested in the fish,” he says.

“Ours wasn’t the last headgate, but close to it, and the next rancher had to put a dam across the creek to get his water right, which pretty much shuts the flow off for fish passage,” Slavin says.

“The plan is to have it finished before we start irrigating this spring,” he says. “We are optimistic it will work. I worry about having trouble with pumps, but we’ve had trouble with ditches, too.”

Grants help farmers fend off junipers Mon, 9 Feb 2015 14:21:31 -0500 LACEY JARRELL In Oregon, livestock and wildlife can benefit from small grants for watershed improvement.

Last year, Frank Hammerich was awarded a small grant from the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board that helped him clear junipers from a 40-acre parcel of his ranch near Bonanza, Ore.

“The junipers just kind of overtook everything and they needed to get thinned out,” Hammerich said.

The grant paid for a professional tree company to cut down dozens of junipers with a hydraulic clamp; other younger, smaller trees were cut by hand with pruning shears. Species like mountain mahogany and ponderosa pine were left to flourish in the newly opened space.

Hammerich secured his OWEB grant locally from the Klamath Watershed Partnership. But, according KWP project manager Roger Smith, the grants are available statewide. He said the maximum is $10,000, although total project costs may be more because landowners are required to pay in-kind, roughly one-quarter of the cost.

Smith noted that OWEB grants are available for a host of watershed improvements such as riparian fencing and bank stabilization.

“It just needs to have a watershed benefit,” Smith said. “We’ve been dealing with juniper removal, but there are lots of opportunities.”

According to OWEB Grant Program Coordinator Courtney Shaff, every year each of the state’s 28 districts is awarded $100,000 for watershed projects. The small grant program lets landowners to make on-the-ground improvements that benefit water quality, water quantity, and fish and wildlife, she said.

Smith said juniper removal is a good fit for the program because the trees commonly outcompete other species for water. Juniper trees have been recorded drawing more than 30 gallons per day, he said.

“The lack of wildfires has allowed junipers to take hold at a level and a density that never existed naturally,” Smith said. “By removing the juniper, you have an immediate impact on the grasses, forbes and shrubs in the area — so you allow more livestock and wildlife production.”

Hammerich said that before the removal, the juniper-covered land looked like a jungle. The encroaching trees were so dense, he said, grass disappeared and timber species, like pine, became stunted. In addition, soil erosion increased because no ground cover or shallow roots existed to slow surface water flows.

“Everything just washed off,” Hammerich said.

Although tree removal took less than one month to complete, project maintenance will be ongoing, Hammerich said. He plans to replant the parcel with dryland seed to stabilize the soil and to prevent noxious weeds from taking hold.

“I’ll have to take care of that for the next couple of years. When you disturb ground, it brings those weeds to the forefront,” Hammerich said.

As part of the grant agreement, he must also maintain the area for five years, cutting down any junipers or other unwanted species that emerge.

Conservation district saves money with new building Mon, 9 Feb 2015 14:20:07 -0500 Erick Peterson The Franklin Conservation District will move this spring from the USDA Agricultural Service Center in Pasco, Wash., to a new building nearby.

Board member Chris Herron and other district officials say, however, that people who currently depend on the district have nothing to worry about, as it will continue to offer the same services.

Actually, they said, the district will have a little more to offer.

Herron, a wheat farmer, said that the district is well prepared for the transition. Through strong management of its resources, he said, the district saved money to construct the new building.

Still, Heather Wendt, assistant manager of the Franklin and Benton conservation districts, calls the need for the move “a sad story with a happy ending.”

The district office has been at the ag service center since its inception in 1951, as was done at many other service centers across the country.

“We’ve been tied by the hip to them for forever,” she said. As such, the USDA has helped her office with technical assistance, supplies and equipment and by giving the district office space in their building.

But things changed last year, she said, when the USDA decided to charge rent — $65,000 per year, a sum the district could not afford.

Fortunately, she said, the district had been saving for the previous 20 years and had enough savings for a building, which it has recently started. At a cost of $583,000, the building will be within eyesight of its current location.

It will have 4,000 square feet of space, half of which will be offices for the seven full-time employees. The other half will be a shop, which will serve primarily as storage for teaching supplies.

The completion date is April 1.

She said that the only new service will be a demonstration garden for local plants. This will be an opportunity to teach property owners about native plants and encourage them to build lawns that save water.

Irrigation water management will remain the top priority, said Mark Nielson, district manager.

“In Franklin County, you have some of the highest nitrate levels in groundwater across the state,” he said.

Nielson and his team are trying to reduce the amount of water used to limit nitrates from leeching into the groundwater. The project involves putting monitors in the ground, tracking water use and trying to match water to crop conditions. The goal, he said, is to use only enough water for the crops and prevent it from carrying nitrates deep into the groundwater.

When the district first put irrigation water management into practice, it was met with some skepticism, he said. Some local growers even seemed grumpy about being asked about their practices.

The program, however, has gained support, he said. Producers have learned that they can create savings in water, fertilizer and energy use.

Nielson said that last year the district provided around $50,000 of incentive money for the program, and he now has a glut of people wanting to enroll.

Water project improves efficiency, quality Mon, 9 Feb 2015 14:19:34 -0500 Erick Peterson A project 10 years in the making is proving to be a benefit to area landowners and the migratory fish population in Cowiche Creek.

Nearly complete but fully functional, the Cowiche Creek Water Users’ Association Barrier Removal and Trust Water Project has been a blessing, according to Ken Lust, a Yakima, Wash.-area hay farmer who also has a small cattle operation.

This project exchanged creek water rights held by 16 people, including Lust, for new water rights from the nearby Tieton River. Their Cowiche rights were then placed in a state trust for in-stream flow for fish passage.

Lust said the project, initiated by the North Yakima Conservation District, provides him with a constant supply of water.

“It’s a great project,” he said,

He added that the district “has done a good job for us” and that he is glad to have been involved, as it has reduced his workload by unburdening him of much pump and irrigation system maintenance.

Mike Tobin, the district manager, said other landowners and farmers say they are well served by the project and that they have been waiting for it for a long time.

For around 10 years, he said, people have been discussing the Cowiche Creek problem. Fish migration was troubled by two four-foot dams in the creek and totally blocked by dewatered sections of the creek.

The district considered solutions that could have left a large footprint and required expensive engineering work, Tobin said.

But then someone at the district thought to make use of a pressurized pipeline already underground. It made sense, he said, to put outlets on it to serve the area with water from the Tieton River.

As much as it made sense, it could not be done right away. First, Tobin would have to work with local landowners and government agencies to build a consensus.

What could have “taken 10 days ended up taking 10 years,” Tobin said, but the final solution was one that both improved irrigation water quantity and quality and offered a fish recovery benefit. More water running in the creek improves the temperature and allows the steelhead and coho to pass unencumbered.

It also benefits livestock. Working with landowners who have property above the creek, the district installed a buffer, a fenced grazing management system and off-stream watering for cattle.

Several people and agencies should be thanked for their help on the project, Tobin said. A salmon recovery funding grant from the Recreation and Conservation Office helped fund pipeline construction. Further funding came from the Bonneville Power Administration through the Yakima Tributary Access and Habitat Program. And the Washington Water Project of Trout Unlimited was “a big sponsor,” Tobin said. The Yakima-Tieton Irrigation District and the federal Bureau of Reclamation were also helpful.

That, plus the cooperation of landowners, made the project possible, Tobin said.

Utility’s cost-share project reduces dairy’s expenses Mon, 9 Feb 2015 14:17:54 -0500 Hear Smith Thomas RICHFIELD, Idaho — Dairyman Robin Lezamiz was closing a headgate on the canal that fed his irrigation system when a deer and her fawn distracted him.

“I came upon a doe and a fawn, and the fawn was newborn — still wobbly. I started following the doe and fawn, walking northeasterly. After 20 minutes they took off, and I turned around to go back and was looking to the southeast, over the top of some poplar trees, 2 miles away,” he said.

“It finally dawned on me that I was looking at our dairy farm, and our roller mill — a 30-foot-tall building with an elevator sticking 40 feet above the building,” he said. “I was looking clear over the top of that. I never realized there was that much fall.”

Lezamiz, who owns the farm in partnership with his sister Lynda, called a contractor who came and took the coordinates and determined there was 173 feet of fall — the change in elevation — in a half-mile.

That discovery, plus financial help from Idaho Power, would help him switch his irrigation system to gravity-fed set-up that saves the dairy 88 percent on its electricity bill each year along with reducing labor and maintenance costs associated with the old canal and pumping stations.

Lezamiz contacted his local Idaho Power agricultural representative to see if the utility would help in a cost-share project.

The Idaho Power incentive program paid 29 percent of the total cost of the project, which was installed in 2010.

The water is now picked up 2 miles north of the dairy, taking advantage of 195 feet of elevation drop from the diversion to the lowest part of the farm.

“It goes into a 27-inch pipeline that takes it down to our farm,” Lezamiz said.

“We originally thought the pipeline would pay for itself in six years but it paid for itself in two,” he said. “Also, our water is coming 3 miles through the pipe instead of the canal, and we save at least 100 inches of water for the canal company, eliminating water loss.”

Idaho Power has irrigation efficiency programs in which farmers and ranchers can upgrade or modify irrigation systems, said Dennis Merrick, the utility’s program support manager.

“It all results in power savings from water savings, with less pumping costs,” he said.

“We have six Idaho Power agricultural field representatives who meet with customers and do free irrigation system audits to determine their efficiencies. These representatives can make recommendations on how to improve water application efficiencies as well as energy savings tips,” Merrick said.

“We do about 1,000 projects each year through this program,” he said. “It’s a win-win situation. The farmer increases water application efficiency, resulting in an increase in crop yield, less disease, better fertilizer application and often labor savings.”

He said the Lezamiz Dairy is a happy customer.

“They have more water now than they ever had, and can irrigate their entire farm. In years past they were always short, from loss along the canal. They are finally receiving their full water right,” Merrick said. They were also able to expand their farm with the increased water availability.

“We had 11 pump stations feeding 11 pivots,” Lezamiz said. The pivots, along with wheel lines and hand lines, irrigate 1,071 acres of crops on the farm. By installing a gravity-pressured buried mainline, they were able to fill in the old canal.

“And it all came about because that doe jumped up — and enticed me to go up on that rock pile and look to the south,” he said.

Spokane celebrates Ag Expo, Farm Forum Thu, 29 Jan 2015 17:22:33 -0500 The Spokane Ag Expo and Pacific Northwest Farm Forum are the centerpieces of the 2015 Ag Week celebration.

Each year the Spokane Ag Expo organizers and Visit Spokane designate “Ag Week in Spokane.” This year it is planned for Feb. 1-7.

The Expo, now in its 38th year, will be based in the newly expanded Spokane Convention Center, while the forum, in its 61st year, holds agriculture-related presentations and seminars in the nearby Spokane DoubleTree Hotel.

“As we continue celebrating agriculture in Spokane, highlighting the importance of agriculture in our region, we are very excited for the expanded exhibit space, allowing us to bring more exhibits and events for attendees,” said Myrna O’Leary, director of the Spokane Ag Expo and Pacific Northwest Farm Forum.

Others events that are part of Ag Week include:

• The second annual Excellence in Agriculture Award will be presented at the Pacific Northwest Farm Forum opening session on Tuesday, Feb. 3, in the DoubleTree Hotel Ballroom. The award was developed to recognize an individual, business or organization that has had significant, positive impacts on the agricultural industry in the Inland Northwest during 2014.

• With the expansion of the convention center, rooms directly off the show floor allow exhibitors to offer an array of workshops on topics important to farmers.

• The Expo will offer a career fair for high school students, increasing awareness of the career opportunities available to them. Students and parents are encouraged to attend the event, which will be from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 5.

• The Expo offers a “Big Data” panel discussion from 1 to 3 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 4, to help farmers consider how the data revolution could impact them, including questions about farmer-generated data, how it’s gathered by service providers, who owns farmer-generated data and potential risks. Panelists include Kirk A. Wesley, national and key accounts manager for CNH Industrial, NAFTA; Elizabeth Tellessen, attorney with Winston & Cashatt in Spokane; and Barrie Robison, associate professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Idaho and associate director of the Institute for Bioinformatics and Evolutionary Studies.

• Expo attendees will again be able to donate canned food and make monetary donations to the annual Dump for Hunger food drive sponsored by Western States Equipment. This is the sixth year of this anti-hunger drive at the during the Expo. All food and money collected is donated to Second Harvest Food Bank and distributed throughout the Inland Northwest.

• The Pacific Northwest Farm Forum will present a full slate of seminars and top speakers. Weatherman Art Douglas, emeritus professor of atmospheric sciences at Creighton University, and Washington State University small grains agricultural economics professor Randy Fortenbery speak at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 3, in the DoubleTree Hotel.

AgDirection founder and president Kevin Van Trump is back by popular demand with his agriculture economic forecast at 9 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 4, in the DoubleTree Ballroom, hosted by the AgriBusiness Council of Greater Spokane Incorporated.

WSU agriculture technology and production management adviser James Durfey will speak to FFA members about career opportunities using precision agriculture from 9 to 11 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 5, at the DoubleTree.

For further details, visit the Spokane Ag Expo website at

‘Big data’ panel will address farmer-generated info Thu, 29 Jan 2015 17:18:25 -0500 Matw Weaver Farmers will learn from experts about the potential opportunities and dangers of “big data” during a presentation at the Spokane Ag Expo and Pacific Northwest Farm Forum.

The discussion will be from 1 to 3 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 4, in the DoubleTree Hotel Ballroom.

Panelists will talk about farmer-generated data to guide production and business decisions, how that data is used by service providers, who owns the data and managing risks when a farmer shares his data.

“The goal for the program will be to help farmers start thinking about (these) questions and how the data revolution could affect their own farming practices in the future,” said Myrna O’Leary, manager of the Spokane Ag Expo and Pacific Northwest Farm Forum.

The panelist will include Kirk Wesley, national and key accounts manager for CNH Industrial in Burr Ridge, Ill.; Barrie Robison, associate director of the University of Idaho Institute for Bioinformatics and Evolutionary Studies; and Elizabeth Tellessen, an attorney with Winston & Cashatt in Spokane.

Each speaker will have 30 minutes, with time for a question-and-answer session.

“Big data” refers to the collection and storage of information from machinery, companies working in agriculture and regulatory agencies, Wesley said.

Telematics connect operations in the field to data warehouses, or silos, he said.

CNH Industrial is careful to inform customers that they control any share or use of their data, Wesley said. The company removes identifying factors to look at data on a broader scale to find potential areas for improvement, he said. Wesley likened this approach to the financial and health industries.

“We can tell you in the county you’re sitting in right now how many cancer cases (there are), but the door slams shut when we want the names of those people,” he said as an example. “We don’t care where any of this equipment is running, we just want to know the performance issues that might be going on and make a better product in the future.”

Robison said “big data” covers an array of data sets from growers worldwide. The information could answer questions that were previously impossible to answer by showing what kind of steps have been used elsewhere to address challenges, he said.

“The idea is to get to solutions that can actually be implemented,” Robison said.

Tellessen recommends farmers who are using computerized technology look over their agreement before attending the discussion.

Technology is changing so quickly that farmers need to know both the opportunities and the risks, Tellessen said.

One of the concerns is who owns a farmer’s data and who has access to it, she said.

Tellessen hopes to convey during the panel discussion where companies differ in contractual agreements — how the data is kept, shared, owned or protected.

Wesley cautioned farmers to look carefully at the legal agreements when they sign up for online applications, or apps, to determine where and how the data may be used.

“Put this up a little bit higher on your radar, maybe have an idea of where this data is going and how it’s going to be used,” Wesley said.

Successful farmers could end up sharing their techniques with competing growers and putting their own operation at risk, Wesley said.

Farmers could also find that they are inadvertently sharing private information under a licensing agreement with a seed company, he said.

“All the players you’re bringing to this table, you need to understand what their stance is,” he said.

Robison said U.S. farmers need to pay attention to big data because their competitors are.

“It’s to the point where either you’re going to pay attention to this and gain a competitive edge from it, or you’re going to be left behind,” he said.

Photo contest winners capture life in the country Thu, 29 Jan 2015 17:16:55 -0500 Matw Weaver The winners of the annual Spokane Ag Expo photography contest bring a unique perspective to life in the country.

“The ones that rise to the top are the pictures that are able to show us something in a way we haven’t seen it — in our world and in ourselves,” said judge Rajah Bose, photographer for Gonzaga University in Spokane. “This year’s contest was one of the best in our memory. Thank you to everyone who submitted photos, it was difficult to make our final choices.”

Karen Baumann, of Washtucna, Wash., placed first in the adult category with “Stay Close.”

“A great moment on the farm,” Bose said. “The falling snow, the beautiful simple color palate of the red and brown made us feel like we were there.”

Dakota Street of Mabton, Wash., placed first in the youth category, with “Rain on a Window.”

“This image stood out for its vision and detail,” Bose said. “Pairing the rain with the light on the window of a car was a great use of juxtaposition that added meaning to what would have been a beautiful sunset on its own.”

Bose had high praise for the youth entries.

“The youth category really sang this year,” he said. “We enjoyed getting closer to the subjects, taking us to places we hadn’t seen, and showing us parts of ourselves we hadn’t thought about.”

Photographers were asked to submit photos depicting agriculture in the Inland Northwest.

In the adult category, Steve Shinning of Spokane placed second with “Old Tractors,” and Tracy Delya of Colville, Wash., placed third with “Hay Stacks.” Baumann also received the show director’s choice award for “Standing in Daddy’s Overalls.” Honorable mentions went to Shinning for “McCoy Elevator,” David Huck of Deer Park, Wash., for “Hay Rolling Storm,” Daniel Leitz of Spokane for “Starlit Barn,” and Dennis Morissey of Mead, Wash., for “In a Cloud of Dust.”

In the youth category, Linda Rubio of Mabton placed second with “A Day at the Grape Field,” and Remadi Lyn Maple of Coulee City, Wash., placed third with “Wheat Fall.” Anna Leitz of Spokane received show director’s choice award for “Ladybug.” Honorable mentions went to Anna Leitz for “Palouse Ammonia,” Danielle Rogne of Addy, Wash., for “Seeing Red,” Garrett Lewis of Rockford, Wash., for “Man in Field” and Adriana Gutierrez of Mabton for “Driving into the Sun.”

Greater Spokane Incorporated staff selected Baumann’s “Standing in Daddy’s Overalls” and “Lewis’ “Man in Field” for Greater Spokane Incorporated’s Choice awards.

All 93 entries will be displayed during the Spokane Ag Expo and Pacific Northwest Farm Forum in the Spokane Convention Center Exhibit Halls. Winning photos will be posted on the Spokane Ag Expo website following the Expo.

Drier winters in store for region, weatherman predicts Thu, 29 Jan 2015 17:21:36 -0500 Matw Weaver The Pacific Northwest could be in for dry winters and wet springs as a long-term El Niño pattern develops, a weather expert says.

Art Douglas is the professor emeritus of atmospheric sciences at Creighton University in Omaha, Neb., and the featured speaker at this year’s Pacific Northwest Farm Forum, which takes place during the 2015 Spokane Ag Expo.

Douglas has called for dry winter weather both this year and next.

However, entering the spring, the jet stream will begin pumping warm, moist air northward toward the Pacific Northwest.

“I’m expecting, with a bleak winter, spring will turn around and we’ll really start seeing some moisture, which is not typical of an El Niño,” he said.

El Niño is created by a prolonged warming of the Pacific Ocean’s surface temperatures. Most El Niños have a cold water pool north of Hawaii, limiting the amount of moisture for storms, but this one has a lot of moisture and energy potential, he said.

The current El Niño is about two to three months behind the normal time frame, he said.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and European models indicate the “misbehaving” El Niño, which will peak late, could create continuous El Niño conditions. By the end of this summer, water temperatures at the equator will approach 1.5 to 2 degrees above normal.

“We’re looking at probably a two-year El Niño event,” Douglas said. “Two-year El Niños are not common. ... But this El Niño has just not quite developed like it should.”

Most El Niños mean a dry winter and spring in the Northwest, he said. But with the extreme warmth of the Pacific Ocean, Douglas expects a wet spring in the Northwest.

Similar El Niños also occurred in 1976-1979 and 1993-1994. Multi-year El Niños only occur every 20 to 25 percent of the time, he said.

Expo visitors help food drive ‘dump’ hunger Thu, 29 Jan 2015 17:20:58 -0500 Matw Weaver Western States Equipment hopes Spokane Ag Expo visitors will help the company collect seven dump truck loads of food this year, marking its seventh annual Dump Hunger food drive.

The company-sponsored food drive returns to the Expo this year. Since 2008, the drive has collected nearly 3.4 million pounds of food, which goes to food banks in Eastern Washington and Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Western Wyoming.

Each year Western States increases its goal. Last year, the drive collected the equivalent of six truckloads. This year, the company hopes to collect 525,000 pounds, or seven truckloads. That amount of food will provide roughly 437,000 meals to people in need.

The company is seeking canned or dry goods or cash donations.

Western States marketing coordinator Whitney Mustin said the drive is especially timely, as food bank donations tend to drop off following the holiday season.

“As we get more into the deep part of the winter months, the food bank lines continue to get a little bit longer, quite frankly,” said Rod Wieber, chief resource officer for Second Harvest in Spokane. “Donations, though, start to slow down. I think it’s just not top-of-mind.”

Heating bills and other expenses increase during the winter, so people have to rely on local food banks to stretch their budgets, Wieber said.

The Expo provides a good opportunity to collect monetary donations, Wieber said. For each dollar donated, Second Harvest can provide five meals to a family in need, he said.

Many Expo attendees are from rural communities, where Second Harvest distributes food, he said.

“They’ll be helping out their neighbors and communities,” he said.

According to a Western States press release, food donations can also be made at any Western States location. Monetary donations can be made online through participating food banks.

The biggest need is for boxed meals such as macaroni and cheese; peanut butter; canned fruit, soup, chili, stew or vegetables; cereal; dried beans; pasta; pasta sauce; rice; and stuffing mix.

“As a company, we appreciate any help (farmers and ranchers) are able to do, and we know the food banks appreciate it,” Mustin said. “It’s going to go to families in need.”

The company plans to continue the drive beyond 2015.

“It’s successful and it helps all of the communities out,” Mustin said.

Award honors agriculture’s supporters Thu, 29 Jan 2015 17:20:08 -0500 Matw Weaver The Greater Spokane Incorporated AgriBusiness Council will present its Excellence in Agriculture Award during the Spokane Ag Expo and Pacific Northwest Farm Forum.

The award debuted last year, when the council honored the McGregor Company for its rehabilitation of a biodiesel facility in Creston, Wash., and students from Odessa High School for a career forum, which placed first in the nation at the Future Business Leaders of America National Leadership Conference.

The winners of the 2015 award will be announced and presented at the Pacific Northwest Farm Forum kickoff session the morning of Feb. 3.

According to a council press release, the selection committee considers four criteria:

• Innovation in agriculture.

• Economic or environmental stewardship contribution to agriculture.

• Positive impact on agriculture.

• Industry awareness and outreach.

Dick Hatterman, general manager of Co-Ag Inc., in Rosalia, Wash., is chairman of the selection committee.

“It’s something we kinda talked about a couple years ago, saying, ‘How do we support agriculture?’” Hatterman said. “There’s always that one, two or five people who have really made a difference in the last year. Either they brought up ideas, spent time getting stuff going — they’ve done what’s needed to help agriculture.”

The nomination process is easy, Hatterman says. All someone has to do is provide contact information for nominees, and the Ag Expo committee contacts them. The nominee fills out a form, and the committee makes a selection.

“The criteria is somebody who has really helped Eastern Washington agriculture,” Hatterman said. “That could be an implement dealer who has done something in terms of equipment, somebody who has been active politically or maybe it’s somebody who has developed something in regards to production. There certainly is a list of viable candidates out there who have helped to promote area agriculture.”

Nominees could also be an organization, group of people or youth.

Dedicated volunteers keep Ag Expo running smoothly Thu, 29 Jan 2015 17:19:38 -0500 Matw Weaver SPOKANE — The Spokane Ag Expo wouldn’t come together without the hard work of its many volunteers.

Two longtime volunteers are Bill Nelson and Sybil Tresch.

Nelson has been involved since the first Expo, when he was an exhibitor.

“They hooked me many years ago,” he said, noting he gets a chance to catch up with longtime farmer friends at the Expo.

“Sometimes you don’t see them until you come to the show,” Tresch agreed. “There’s a lot of standing in the aisles and visiting. That’s fun to see. You recognize the long-term attendees.”

Tresch started volunteering in about 1991, serving as board president for two years and on various committees.

“I loved it, I liked the people I met, too,” she said.

Many of the longtime volunteers have demonstrated a rare loyalty not seen in other organizations, Tresch said. She estimated there are 10 or 12 volunteers who have been with the show since the beginning.

Nelson grew up on a farm in Davenport, Wash., and worked for a manufacturing company as sales manager.

Tresch lived on small acreage farms growing up, but her background is in finance.

Nelson and Tresch have been friends for a long time. They helped put on a horseshoe event in different communities around Spokane. The winners from each town used to compete at the expo.

Tresch believes the Expo remains an important function for farmers around the region, to see technology updates and receive continuing education credits.

Nelson said the show works to provide something new every year, to keep farmers coming back again and again.

Volunteers work to make sure the expo flows as smoothly as possible, drawing in quality attendance to interact with the show’s exhibitors, Nelson and Tresch said.

“Everyone who comes to the show is basically a qualified buyer,” Nelson said. “When I was exhibitor, I always had people that came to the show to see me and ask questions. It’s those kinds of relationships that you build by being an exhibitor.”

“We’re getting more young people, I think, that are interested,” Tresch said.

For aspiring new volunteers, Tresch recommends becoming acquainted with Greater Spokane Inc., and determining which committees may be the best fit.

Both Tresch and Nelson plan to continue working at the Expo.

2015 Spokane Ag Expo Exhibitors Thu, 29 Jan 2015 17:13:32 -0500 Adams County Economic Development

Ag Energy Solutions

Ag Enterprise Supply Inc.

Ag Spray Equipment

AGCO Corp.


AGPRO Marketing & Manufacturing Inc.



Agricultural Innovations

Agri-Data Solution

Agritech Corp.

Agri-Trend Group of Companies

Agro-Culture Liquid Fertilizers

Ag-West Distributing

Air Filter Blaster

AKE Safety Equipment

A-L Compressed Gases Inc.

All Seasons Tree Service

Allsport Polaris Honda Yamaha

American Family Insurance

American Tile Carpet & Furniture

AquaTech Irrigation Supply

Ariens Co.

ATI Solutions

Augies Ag Sales

B&B Truck Service

Bank of Fairfield

Barber Engineering Co.

Barnes Welding Inc.

Barr-Tech LLC

Battery Systems

Bayer Crop Science

Berg Companies Inc.

Berg/Bowhead Environmental

Best Western Plus Wheatland Inn

BNP Lentil Co.

Booker Auction Co.

Bourgault Tillage Tools

Brown Bearing Co. Inc.

Buck & Affiliates Insurance West

Burlingame Machinery Consignments

Busch Distributors Inc.

ByoGon Northwest

C&S Construction of Spokane

Capital Insurance Group

Capital Press

Carpenter, McGuire & DeWulf, P.S.

Cascade Machinery


Champion Windows of Spokane

Choice Marketing Group

CHS — Energy

Class 8 Trucks

Cleary Building Co.

Colbalt Trailer Sales

Coeur d’Alene Tractor Inc.

Coleman Oil Co.

Columbia Bank

Columbia Hearing Centers

Columbia River Carbonates

Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers

Connell Oil Inc.

Cookie Lee Jewelry

Cooperative Agricultural Producers Inc.

Cordex North America

Crop Insurance Solutions

Crop Production Services

Cross Slot USA

CSC Exteriors Inc.

Culligan of Spokane

Cummins Northwest LLC

D&J Farm Supply

Day Wireless Systems

Direct Automotive Distributing

Ditch Witch Northwest — A Papé company

Doughboys Tools & Equipment

Dream Room Design

DSI Recycling Systems Inc.

Dutch Industries

Eastern Washington Noxious Weed Boards

Eastern Washington PTAC

ED-KA Manufacturing

Edward Jones Investments

Eljay Oil Inc.

Ellis Equipment

Embroidery Wholesale

Evergreen Implement

Extreme Industrial Coatings

Farmer Stockman

Farmland Tractor Supply

Fasteners Inc.

FEI Inc.

Flexxifinger QD Industries Inc.

FMI Sales

Fogle Pump & Supply Inc.

G&R Ag Products

Gates Mfg. Inc.

General Implement Distributors

Genworth Long Term Care Insurance

George F. Brocke & Sons Inc.


Giant Rubber Water Tanks

Gibby Media Group

Global Equipment Co. Inc.

Global Harvest Foods/Mills, Intl.

Grange Insurance Group

Great Plains Mfg. Inc.

Greenacres Gypsum & Lime Co.

GSI Water Solutions Inc.

G-Tec Flitz LLC

Harold Ag & Mobile Products

Haskins Steel Co. Inc.

Haybuster/Duratech Industries

Hefty Seed Co.

Hillco Technologies Inc.

Hinrichs Trading Co.

Honeywell Safety Products

Hotsy of Spokane

HUB International Insurance

Industrial Communications

Industrial Iron Works

Industrial Systems & Fabrication Inc.

Intelligent Agricultural Solutions

IRZ Consulting

J.E. Love Co.

Jim Wilhite’s Bale Wagon LLC

Jimmy’s Roofing

Jones Truck & Implement

Junior Livestock Show of Spokane

Justis Brothers Chemicals

K&N Electric Motors Inc.

K 3 Herzog Distributors LLC

K102 Country

Kile Machine & Manufacturing Inc.

Kimball Midwest

Koch Agronomic Services

L&H Seeds

Landoll Corp.

LDJ Mfg. Inc., DBA: Thunder Creek Equipment

Les Schwab Tire Centers

Lexar Homes

LiquiTube Marketing International

Long Construction Inc.

M.D. Electric, LLC

Magnation Water Technologies

Mass Mutual Oregon

McKay Seed Co.

Meridian Manufacturing Group

Micro Ag Inc.

MK Commodities, White Wheat Report

Morgan Enterprises

Moss Adams LLC

Mountain High Truck and Equipment

Mountain View Equipment Co.

Mountain View MetalWorks

MPP Tools

MSQ Inc.

Mycorrhizol Applications Inc.


National Weather Service

Nick’s Custom Boots

Norco Inc.

North 40 Outfitters

North Pine Ag Equipment Inc.

Northstar Clean Concepts

Northwest Farm Credit Services

Northwest Farmland Management

Northwest Hose & Fittings

Northwest MedStar

Northwest Retail

Nu Skin Parmanex

Odessa Trading Co.

Oregon Blueberry Farms & Nursery

Overhead Door Co. of Spokane & Coeur d’Alene

Oxarc Inc.

Pacific Coast Canola LLC

Pacific Building Systems

Pacific Northwest Direct Seed Association

Pacific Northwest Farmer’s Cooperative

Pacific Petroleum & Supply

Pacific Power Group

Palouse Welding & Machine Inc.

Papé Machinery

Papé Material Handling

Papé Rents

Photonic Water Systems LLC

Pioneer West

Pneu-Tek Tire Tools


Quality Fencing & Construction

Quality Steel Buildings Inc.

Quality Water Northwest

R&H Machine Inc.

R&M Steel Co.

Rainier Seeds Inc.

Reman Sales

Renewable by Andersen

Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers

Royal Organic Products

Reseler’s Custom Creations

Rodda Paint Co.

SCAFCO Grain Systems

Scales N.W.

Scales Unlimited

Schaeffer’s Specialized Lubricants

Schulte Industries LTD

Seeds Inc./Plants of the Wild

Skinner Tank Co. (STC)

Skone Irrigation & Supply LLC

Smith Chrome Plating Inc.

Snake River Adventures

Solid Structures

Soucy International

Spectrum Crop Development Corp./Progene LLC

Spokane Comm. College Environmental Sciences Dept.

Spokane Conservation District

Spokane House of Hose

Spokane Post Frame Inc.

Spokane Seed Co.

Spray Center Electronics Inc.

Sprayflex Sprayers Inc.

SS Equipment Inc.

St. John Hardware & Implement

Star Rentals Inc.

Steel Structures America Inc.

Stinger, Ltd.

Stoess Manufacturing

Stoneway Electrical Supply


Summers Mfg. Co.

Superior Steel Products Inc.

SureFire Ag Systems Inc.


Systems West LLC

T&S Sales

The Concrete Doctor

The Exchange Newspaper

The McGregor Company

Titan Truck Equipment & Accessories Co. Inc.

TNT Truck Parts

Tomboy Tools/Project Home

Touchmark on South Hill

Town & Country Builders Inc.

Tractor House

Trans Canada-GTN

University of Idaho-College of Ag & Life Sciences


USDA NASS (National Ag Statistics Service)

Valley Synthetics

Vermeer Manufacturing Co.

Visit Spokane


Washington State Department of Labor & Industries

Washington AgForestry Leadership Foundation

Washington Cattlemen’s Association

Washington Department of Natural Resources

Washington Grain Alliance/WAWG

Washington Grown

Washington State Grange

Washington State Patrol Commercial Vehicle Div.

Washington Tractor

Washington Trust Bank

West Coast Seed Mill Supply Co.

Western Farm Ranch & Dairy

Western Reclamation Inc.

Western States Agriculture Solutions

Western Trailer Sales Co.

Wheatland Bank

Wheeler Industries

Whiskey Creek Originals

Whitley Fuel LLC

Wilbur-Ellis Co.

WRS-Western Refinery Services


WSU Spokane County Extension

Xpain Solutions

Ziegler Lumber (Ziggy’s)

Zions Bank

2015 show hours at a glance Thu, 29 Jan 2015 17:13:05 -0500

2015 Spokane Ag Expo and Pacific Northwest Farm Forum tickets Thu, 29 Jan 2015 17:12:43 -0500 2015 Spokane Ag Expo and Pacific Northwest Farm Forum hosts Thu, 29 Jan 2015 17:12:16 -0500 Career fair highlights options for students Thu, 29 Jan 2015 17:10:46 -0500 Matw Weaver FFA members will go from learning about career options at the Spokane Ag Expo and Pacific Northwest Farm Forum to meeting potential employers.

The Expo offers a career fair from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 5, following the FFA presentation on the many opportunities agriculture presents.

Many teenagers are unaware of the career opportunities in agriculture, so Expo organizers reached out to businesses to talk about the many careers that are available. In addition to farming and ranching, they include accounting, legal, marketing, finance, technology, sales, machinery design and maintenance and management.

“Our goal is basically to enlighten the high school students about the tremendous opportunities there are,” said Myrna O’Leary, director of the Expo.

O’Leary said 600 to 700 students typically attend the FFA presentation. She encourages FFA advisors to have their students attend.

“There will be plenty of time to go through the career fair and hit the show floor, too,” she said.

“Whenever my students can see the opportunities that may be available to them in the ag industry, they then can see themselves in those careers,” said Allen Skoog, advisor for the Cheney, Wash., FFA. “The possibilities in the industry open up to them in their minds. This is especially true for nontraditional career opportunities for women and minorities.”

Students can see the application of their learning in school in many areas represented during the career fair and the Expo, Skoog said.

“Students should consider a career in agriculture because it is so diverse and the science, marketing, business and communication skills they learn in school in their ag course work (relate) directly to industry,” he said.

“Employers should know that these students will come to them with knowledge in communication, sciences, mechanics, et cetera,” Skoog said. “They will also come to them with strong values and work ethic that will be an asset to their company. These students who wear the blue jacket of the National FFA Organization are the future of our country and are the cream of the crop.”

Students who go through the career fair will get a ticket to enter a drawing for iTune cards.

The career fair will be in one of the new breakout rooms near the new north entrance of the Spokane Convention Center. Event sponsors are Carpenter, McGuire & DeWulf; Wheeler Industries Inc., and Washington Tractor Inc.

Something for everyone at Northwest Ag Show Wed, 14 Jan 2015 10:47:17 -0500 MITCH LIES Agriculture reigns supreme at the Portland Expo Center for three days in late January as the 46th annual Northwest Agricultural Show takes center stage.

This year’s show features more than 200 exhibitors, three theme days, seminars, special exhibits and an expanded tasting area featuring locally produced beer and wine.

Opening day, Jan. 27, is FFA Day. Among highlights is the FFA Passport Program, an event open to the public that encourages attendees to get passport stamps at participating vendor booths and enter their passport at the FFA booth for a chance to win a big-screen TV.

Show manager Amy Patrick said she started increasing FFA activities several years ago after noticing participation among FFA members was dwindling.

“We really ramped up our support of FFA the last three years,” Patrick said. “Mostly because I was an FFA kid and it is such a natural fit for the show.”

The second day, Jan. 28, is Family Day, when families, regardless of size, can gain admission for just $20.

“I have personally seen families of nine and 12 come through the gates on one ticket,” Patrick said. “It’s pretty awesome.”

Patrick said the impetus behind Family Day is to encourage participation among the next generation of farmers and ranchers.

“We’re trying to make it easier for folks to come up, bring the next generation, and keep them interested in farming,” she said.

The show stays open until 8 p.m. on Family Day, providing an opportunity for those who work late or have children in school to attend.

The closing day, Jan. 29, is Free Parking Day. “We are paying for the parking for everyone who attends on Thursday as a way to say thanks,” Patrick said.

The day also will focus on small acreage farms with seminars from Black Dog Farmstead.

“The small-farm theme came up because of what I’m seeing in my local area,” Patrick said. “Farm kids, like me, who may have come from larger production backgrounds, now are living on small farms.

“My husband and I have 20 acres,” she said. “It is not a production farm, but we want to make sure we are using our acreage to the best of our abilities and to the most profitability as well.”

Each day also features several hours of seminars, with sections on horticultural crops, nursery crops and small farms. And Oregon OSHA will provide four hours of training each morning on how to safely use and store pesticides.

Northwest Ag Show grows in the rain Wed, 14 Jan 2015 10:43:05 -0500 MITCH LIES Each year, come the last week in January, organizers of the Northwest Agricultural Show hope for rain.

“If it is good weather out, you know where farmers are going to be,” said show Manager Amy Patrick. “They’re going to be working on their farms and not at the show.”

Whether it is the date, the rain or something else, something seems to be working for the organizers of the Northwest Agricultural Show. Now in its 46th year, the show is the second largest agricultural show on the West Coast, behind only the World Ag Expo in Tulare, California.

Around 10,000 people attended the show last year, a 15 percent increase over the previous year.

The Northwest Agricultural Show was started by Patrick’s father, Jim Heater, and Lloyd Martin in 1969. The two attended the Tulare farm show, which was also just starting at that time, and took home some ideas of what they wanted their show to look like.

Initially held at the Oregon State Fairgrounds, the show in the first two years consisted of an exposition of farm machinery and supplies and a handful of seminars. When it was 2 years old, the Oregon Horticultural Council was formed, and the show expanded its schedule of seminars, a formula it maintains today.

The Horticultural Council is made up of the Oregon Nut Growers Society, the Oregon Association of Nurseries and the Oregon Horticultural Society.

“What folks were finding with the different groups is that everybody was trying to put on their own meeting,” Patrick said. “And there was a lot of redundancy between the organizations and what they were trying to do. It was felt that maybe by joining forces and working with the trade show, they could reap some benefits of being a bigger organization: Bring in some speakers that maybe individually the groups wouldn’t be able to pull.”

The organizers moved the show to the Portland Coliseum in the early 1970s, before moving it to the Portland Expo Center in the late 1970s. Organizers decided to hold the show in late January because farm schedules typically were slowest at that point in the year.

“With all the different kinds of agriculture that go on, especially here on the western side of the state, it is about the only time of year you can kind of say, OK, nobody should be doing anything,” Patrick said.

“That’s why we always kept it in January,” she said. “And then we just cross our fingers for rain.”

FFA an integral part of Northwest Ag Show Wed, 14 Jan 2015 10:42:35 -0500 MITCH LIES Capita Opening day of the 2014 Northwest Agricultural Show features an organization with deep roots in agriculture.

And, despite losing its state funding beginning in 2011, it’s an organization that continues to blossom statewide.

“Obviously we are much smaller than we once were in terms of staff,” Oregon FFA Foundation Executive Director Kevin White said. “But during this transition, we have actually grown.”

At more than 5,500 members, participation now is about what it was when FFA membership peaked in the 1980s, White said, and up nearly 1,000 from just three years ago.

With 100 chapters now in Oregon, that number also continues to grow, White said, particularly as FFA reaches into urban areas. Its chapter in north Clackamas County “services quite a few schools in the Portland area,” White said. And the state’s newest chapter, which started recently at Portland’s Madison High School, serves an almost exclusively urban area.

Also, White said, there could be even more chapters if the state was better equipped to service FFA. There is

more demand for chapters, for example, than the state has agricultural sciences teachers, he said, a fact that slows growth.

Asked what the state is doing to address that issue, White said: “Recruiting out of state to find ag teachers that would like to move to Oregon.”

A school district can only form an FFA Chapter if it has an agricultural sciences teacher, he said. Ag teachers serve as advisors for FFA.

At the Northwest Agricultural Show, FFA Day has been a staple for about a dozen years, said show manager Amy Patrick.

The day will include a question-and-answer treasure hunt, where students receive stamps on their “passports” for asking participating vendors agricultural questions.

It will include an FFA Supporters Reception at the close of show that day in the tasting room area, which features locally produced wine and beer. The reception will include presentations from FFA about its new donation program, called Farm for FFA, and a silent auction.

“It will be a great time for FFA supporters, alumni, show attendees and vendors to come together to support the organization and network in a relaxed setting,” Patrick said.

White said the show also is a great opportunity for the public to meet the state’s FFA officers, who will be on hand all three days at the FFA booth.

And it’s a great chance for the officers to hear from past members. “The officers really enjoy hearing folks reminisce about the days they were in FFA,” White said.

Hort seminar focuses on orchard training Wed, 14 Jan 2015 10:40:59 -0500 MITCH LIES In the mid-1990s, Northwest cherry growers were behind the curve in utilizing new training systems.

Not so any longer.

“I’d say that we are now on the leading edge of developing and using some of these systems,” Oregon State University Wasco County Extension agent Lynn Long said.

Long, who has researched cherry production systems in Chile, Australia, Canada and Moldova in the past two years, will talk about what he’s been seeing in his international travels as part of the horticultural seminar, Jan. 27 at the Northwest Ag Show.

“I’m seeing a lot of interest in Chile on the new training systems that have been developed around the world,” he said. Particularly of interest for Chilean growers is the Super Slender Ax system, which was developed at the University of Bologna in Italy and the B. Baum system, developed in northern Europe, he said.

The B. Baum system has two leaders that allow cherries to be farmed off laterals that are pruned annually so fruit remains close to each of the axes of the tree, he said.

“There is also interest in Chile in some of the systems that were developed here in the Northwest,” he said, “such as the UFO, and interest in the KGB system out of Australia.”

Growers are using newer training systems as a means to simplify harvest and pruning and, in some cases, to increase the effectiveness of pesticide treatments. Northwest growers, he said, are adapting systems developed elsewhere for use here.

For example, the KGB system, developed in Australia, today is being used as much as any system in new plantings in the Northwest, he said, rivaling even the Steep Leader system that came out of Washington State University in the mid-1990s.

In addition to utilizing new training systems, Northwest growers today are paying more attention to soil biology, he said.

“In the past, what was going on above ground was the only thing we really thought about,” he said. “You put the fertilizer on and then irrigated and that is about all we knew or understood about what was happening in the soil.

“Now we are starting to think about soil biology — how do we affect the health of the tree by looking beneath that soil level,” he said. “A lot of that started after I took a group of Oregon and Washington growers to Australia a number of years ago and we started talking to growers in Australia about their use of mulches.”

Seminar to aid small-farm operators Wed, 14 Jan 2015 10:40:18 -0500 MITCH LIES New this year to the Northwest Agricultural Show is a presentation on small acreage farms.

Show Manager Amy Patrick said she decided to provide the presentation in deference to an increase of interest in small farms from those new to farming and from traditional farmers.

“It seemed like a natural fit, given what I’m seeing in my local area,” Patrick said.

“I’m seeing that a lot of kids that I grew up with, who came from larger farms, today don’t have the larger farms themselves, but they still have that background and still want to do something with the acreage they have,” Patrick said.

Presenters for the small acreage farming seminar are Tucker and Arianna Pyne, who operate a small farm just outside Rogue River, Ore., and sell at the Ashland and Grants Pass farmers’ markets.

The two are from the Bay Area, but took to farming as they entered their 20s. Three years ago, Tucker purchased what is now Black Dog Farmstead.

They grow a variety of row crops and are preparing to plant a peach orchard that will be interspersed with blueberry plants and herbs. They also have bee hives, goats, chickens and are preparing to branch into quail eggs and quail meat production.

They are preparing to increase the acreage they farm from 2 1/2 to 4.

Arianna, who has been farming with Tucker for nearly two years, said farm life is all she dreamed of and more.

“A lot of people who live in the city have this storybook image of what a farm should be, and what it is like to live on a farm,” she said. “But the realities about farming are different.

“The adjustment for me was realizing that your back is going to hurt, and you are going to have dirt under your nails,” she said. “If you have an animal that is sick and that needs to be put down, that is something you have to deal with.

“Being a farmer is very hands-on,” she said. “And from the second you open your eyes to the second you close them, it is a full-time job, and sometimes even more than that.”

Arianna said she hesitated when she was asked to lead the seminar, but decided she may have something to offer the more established farmers who typically attend the ag show.

“Though we may have come from the city and we don’t know a lot of the fundamentals,” she said, “we are learning pretty quickly, and we are learning things that some large-scale farmers just wouldn’t know.”

OSHA seminars foster pesticide safety Wed, 14 Jan 2015 10:39:41 -0500 MITCH LIES Over the years, Garnet Cooke and Lori Cohen, OSHA compliance officers who present training sessions to farmers on pesticide safety, have resorted to many tactics to interest audiences.

One year they put on a play, where Cooke depicted a compliance officer and Cohen a grower.

“We got a lot of laughs,” Cooke said.

“Basically, we try to mix it up so that if someone comes every year, they are always getting something different.

“And we try to make it fun,” Cooke said.

“We don’t stand up there and say this rule says this and that rule says that,” Cooke said. “We engage with them and we show a lot of pictures of places we’ve been.

“When I was at this one farm, I actually squealed and grabbed my camera when the farmer opened the storage shed. It was a terrible mess with pesticide containers dumped everywhere,” she said. “I thought, this will be great for training.”

Cooke said she also shows pictures of proper pesticide storage.

“People want to see proper usage,” she said. “When you compare the two, it is it really apparent what is good and what is not.”

Cooke and Cohen will be providing three four-hour sessions on pesticide safety at the Northwest Agricultural Show, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. each day of the show.

Topics will include proper use of respirators, hazard communication and Worker Protection Standard training for employees, changes that are in store for the Worker Protection Standard and how to avoid heat illnesses. Sessions also will include information on practical solutions to common pesticide problems, such as decontaminating enclosed cabs, what to do with old chemicals, how to seal shelves and floors in pesticide storage areas.

Growers obtain continuing education credits for participating in the sessions.

Cooke, who started providing pesticide training sessions in the early 1990s, said she has witnessed a change in grower attitudes over the years, both toward the sessions and toward pesticide safety in general.

“Growers today want the information because they are not getting it anywhere else,” she said. “They want to know how to use pesticides safely. Their attitude has changed.

“Initially, people were hesitant to go to conferences led by OSHA,” she said.

Cooke said she and Cohen are busier now than ever.

“Last year we did 21 (training sessions), and attendance was very high for the most part,” she said.