Calculating Climate Benefits for Climate Smart Farms
WASHINGTON STATE UNIVERSITY: What are the climate impacts of a given farm practice? While we know lots of strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions on farms, quantifying that impact can be difficult. However, there is at least one farm in our region –one that uses some pretty neat practices – for which scientists have attempted to answer that question. And the farmer just happens to be a long-time member of CSANR’s advisory committee, Dale Gies.
Dale grows potatoes, wheat, and seed crops for vegetables and cover crops near Moses Lake, Washington. Over many years, Dale has developed a system that uses a mustard and arugula “biofumigant” cover crop to add organic matter, improve soil quality, and suppress soilborne diseases and nematodes in potatoes. CSANR’s Andy McGuire has long worked on mustard cover crops, which have shown potential for managing soilborne pests, including one fungal pathogen involved in potato early dying (Verticillium dahliae) and two parasitic nematodes (Meloidogyne chitwoodi and M. hapla). The pest-suppressing properties of mustard are mainly due to compounds called glucosinolates, though other mechanisms such as development of suppressive soils and systemic plant responses are also likely important (McGuire 2012).

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