Conservation Insight for June 2018

This posting of Outreach Insight is the monthly report of the Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District’s Outreach and Education Program.

Pesticide collection events help to keep chemicals out of our watersheds.

Collection Gathers 9.75 Tons of Pesticides

The first of June was a busy day in Molalla as agricultural producers and industrial users of pesticides hauled in almost ten tons of old, unusable, or restricted pesticides for collection. Chemicals included insecticides, herbicides, and fungicides. All were transported and safely disposed of to ensure that those chemicals will stay out of our local watersheds.

According to Kevin Masterson of the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality: “About 25,000 pounds [of pesticides] were collected in Mt. Angel in November, so bringing in 45,000 pounds [including today’s collection] within six months from the North Willamette Valley is a good haul!”

Surprisingly, the quantities collected at these events remain steady. Since 2007, the total quantity of pesticides collected at events held in Clackamas County equals 151,915 pounds. That is just slightly less than 76 tons of pesticides that can no longer enter the environment!

Pesticide collection events held across Oregon provide safe disposal at no cost to the landowner. The funding for disposal generally comes from grants, as was the case with our recent collection event in Molalla.

The Clackamas Cotton Brief Challenge

Staff Lisa Kilders buries briefs at District’s demonstration farm.

Clackamas County is joining the Soil Your Undies movement (no pun intended)!

For those who have not heard about this odd-sounding event, you will need to go back several years to a group of farmers in California. This Farmers Guild buried 100% cotton briefs to demonstrate, in a highly visual way, what is going on in their soil. Since the cotton is a food source for the living organisms in soil, this test assessed the health of the soil by how much the underwear was degraded by microbial activity after two months.

This experiment was then taken up by a number of farmers in the Midwest and has spread across Canada. The Soil Conservation Council of Canada now holds an annual national soil conservation week where they encourage farmers and gardeners to test the health of their soil by burying cotton briefs. Even farmers in Scotland and England are burying their underwear in the name of soil health!

South Dakota Farmers interested in soil health. photo by Anthony Bly and

To date, ten agricultural producers and home gardeners in Clackamas County have joined in the activity and have buried cotton briefs. The District is also taking part by burying four pairs in different areas of our demonstration farm, representing two gardening sites, a forested area, and a pasture.

You may also follow results from across the country, Canada, and the United Kingdom on social media by using hashtag #SoilYourUndies or locally at hashtag #ClackBriefs.

Visit our booth at the Clackamas County Fair, August 14-18, 2018 to see our results. We will be on the main lawn by the Oregon Dairy Women’s Ice Cream Cart!

Making the Rounds at Clackamas County Farmers Markets

The District provides annual grant opportunities to Farmers Markets.

June was also the District’s month to visit and have a booth at a number of Farmers Markets across Clackamas County. It was great to visit with the customers and see the bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables offered by local producers.

Every year the District offers support grants to many farmers markets to help them be successful. Farmers markets provide valuable points of sale for local agricultural producers, increasing their economic success. Financially successful farmers have an increased ability to conserve water and soil resources and maintain healthy habitats.

This year grants totaling $40,127 were awarded to eight markets. Markets use the money to offer a variety of programs including the popular Power of Produce Club for kids to help them learn about farms and how their food is produced.

See you at the market to buy the freshest summer fruit around! It wouldn’t be summer without Farmers Markets!

Local Students Receive District Scholarships

The District is proud to announce that our 2018 scholarship recipients are Danielle Bull from Damascus and Ethan Gallant from Boring. Each will receive an award of $3,000 towards an associate, bachelor, or graduate degree in the fields of agriculture (including horticulture), natural resource science, or a related discipline. Funds go directly to their respective schools for next year’s tuition.

Danielle Bull will be a graduate student in fall 2018. She attends Oregon State University and is working toward a Master of Science degree in agricultural education. Danielle was a 2012 graduate of Clackamas High School where she was active in the North Clackamas FFA Chapter showing dairy cows. In 2014, she was selected as the Oregon Dairy Princess-Ambassador.

Ethan Gallant and Danielle Bull pose with Jeff Becker (middle), Chair of Clackamas SWCD board of Directors.

During the summer, Danielle works at Lady-Lane Farm in Mulino. Her future plan is to become a high school agricultural instructor.

Ethan Gallant will be a sophomore in fall 2018. He attends Eastern Oregon University and is working toward a Bachelor of Science degree in agricultural science. Ethan was a 2017 graduate of Central Catholic High School and was active in 4-H club and high school sports. He is currently playing football at Eastern Oregon University and is studying agriculture with the goal of making his family farm more efficient and productive.

During the summer, Ethan puts in about 60 hours a week on the family farm in Boring. His long-term goal is to buy his own farm and raise beef cattle and produce hay.

Beneficial Insect Field Day to Celebrate National Pollinator Week

Michael O’Loughlin welcomes the group.

Forty-nine interested producers, conservation district planners, and educators descended on the O’Loughlin Farms in Yamhill County to learn about insects, agriculture, and habitat. The farm is owned by two brothers who have spent countless hours planning, implementing, and collecting data on their habitat projects.

The beneficial insect habitat includes a beetle bank that extends almost 1/3 of a mile, pollinator habitat, and an intentionally designed rock pile that serves as habitat for garter snakes. Who knew garter snakes were great consumers of slugs?

Look for an Oregon Field Guide program featuring Flagship Farms this fall.

This farm is one of the flagship farms for the Oregon Bee Project, a cooperative effort between the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA), the Oregon State University (OSU) Extension Service, the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF), and a diverse set of stakeholders who are actively engaged in caring for our bees. Together these collaborators and supporters are launching several initiatives to maintain and enhance bee health in Oregon including the flagship farm program.

According to a representative of the program, the flagship program is comprised of farmers and nursery owners who lead the way in promoting pollinator diversity through a combination of practices such as creating and maintaining habitat, utilizing Integrated Pest Management strategies, judicious use of pesticides, demonstrating good communication with beekeepers, and supporting crops that provide floral resources for bees.

Jim LaBonte explains identifying features of beetles.

Participants toured the projects with the O’Loughlin brothers and experts in the field, learning about ways to improve habitat and how to identify the beneficial insects. Following the tours, everyone enjoyed their sack lunches and then spent time identifying insects that were captured during the tours. A special treat was the collection of bees that document the species present at the farm.

It is not often that so many experts volunteer to participate in such an event. We thank Mace Vaughn from the Xerces Society; Gwendolyn Ellen, retired Farmscaping expert from the Integrated Plant Protection Center; Sarah Kincaid, Oregon Bee Project; Jim LaBonte and Josh Vlach, entomologist from Oregon Department of Agriculture; Inga Reich and Casi Jessie, OSU researchers; and David Lowenstein, entomologist from Oregon State University.

This event was a cooperative effort by Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD), Yamhill SWCD, Yamhill County Cooperative Extension, and Michael O’Loughlin.

Number of District Facebook Followers Rise

Exciting news! The number of people who follow our District Facebook page has risen to more than 650! Thanks are due to our watershed council and farmers market partners who have been great about sharing articles from the District’s page with their communities. Especially popular were the articles focused on pollinators published daily during National Pollinator Week. Another interesting article was written by a Columbia Land Trust staff member about his experience in the Backyard Habitat Conservation Program. Thank you!

Web posts since last we met:

Have a great July! See you again in August!

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Clackamas SWCD