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Washington State University - Puyallup Organic Farming Systems and Nutrient Management

Overview of our Program

Soils & Organic Farming Systems

Beginning in 2002, we expanded our focus to organic farming systems, including organic amendments, cover crops, and quality of soils. We are working with an interdisciplinary team studying a range of issues important to small scale, direct-market, and organic agriculture, including nutrient management, food safety, soil quality, weed management, economics, marketing, and on-farm research.

Land Application of Organic Wastes

Many organic wastes contain nutrients and organic matter that can benefit plant growth and soil productivity. Recycling these materials onto land captures nutrients that would otherwise be lost, and helps sustain our resource base. They are also a source of organic matter for soils, building and maintaining soil quality. Organic wastes may contain pathogens and small amounts of toxic materials, which can become pollutants if the materials are not managed properly. Over-application of some organic wastes can result in excessive levels of nutrients in the soil, which can harm crop production or water quality. We study nutrient availability from organic materials, to enable us to determine appropriate rates and timing of applications for crop production. We also evaluate short and long term effects of organic amendments on soil quality in agricultural and urban soils.

Our Goal

The goal of our program is to build soil productivity, support local agriculture, protect water quality, and facilitate recycling of organic wastes, by applying soil science principles to agricultural, development, and waste management issues.