Tag Archives | agriculture

Use Sunny Fall Days to Prepare for Winter

As those rainy days of winter loom on the horizon, take advantage of the sunny, warm fall days to prepare your farm for winter! Tackling maintenance and good management practices now may help you avoid hours of cold, wet emergency repairs this winter.


Take actions now for a healthy pasture next spring!

Take actions now for a healthy pasture next spring!

During the busy days of summer, routine maintenance of fence lines and scouting for trouble spots may have landed on the back burner. Look for broken or sagging wire, unstable posts, and gate problems. If you have electric fences, make sure to mow surrounding weeds and grasses that may short out the system. Clean solar panels to collect as much sunlight as possible. Repost any missing or damaged “no trespassing” or “no hunting” signs. Avoid hunters tragically mistaking livestock for deer or elk.


Fall management of pastures has a great deal to do with the health of your pastures next year. This is the time of year for new root growth and storage of carbohydrates in the lower 3-4 inches of the stem. Any management of a pasture that hinders these two processes will mean problems for your pasture in the spring.

The following advice is from Gene Pirelli, Extension Animal Scientist, Oregon State University, and Steve Fransen, Extension Forage Agronomist, Washington State University taken from their article, PASTURE MANAGEMENT: UNDERSTANDING PLANT AND ROOT GROWTH IN THE FALL.

Grass plants can be grazed down to a minimum height as shown in Table 1, but not grazed below that height. These recommended minimum stubble heights allow the plants the ability to store carbohydrates for vigorous re-growth in the fall. Grazing below this height will decrease your fall feed and subsequent spring growth.

Table 1. Recommended residual heights for some grasses during dormant periods

Grass MinimumStubble Height
Tall Fescue3-4 inches
Smooth Brome3-4 inches
Perennial Rye Grass2 inches
Orchard Grass3-4 inches
Meadow Brome3-4 inches
Bluegrass3-4 inches
Timothy4-6 inches

Fall is a great time to take soil samples to test the fertility of the pasture soil. Soil tests should be taken during the same month each year for consistency. Early fall is also a good time to apply nutrients based on your soil test. Oregon State University Extension Fertilizer Guides can help you decide the type and proper amount of nutrients. Manure or other sources of nitrogen can be applied based on plant nutrient needs, but just make sure that you do not apply too much nitrogen. Vigorously growing plants, resulting from high nitrogen applications late in the fall, are more susceptible to winter damage because the growth retards winter dormancy. An excessive nitrogen application will inhibit the plant from starting into its over-wintering response. High nitrogen tends to reduce sugar concentrations so the plant tries to refill its depleted stubble sugar bank account. If plants are not allowed to rest and prepare for winter, they are very susceptible to winter injury or death from the first major cold winter event. As temperatures change in the fall, plants protect themselves by producing a type of “antifreeze” called “Proline”. This “antifreeze” will accumulate in every living plant cell during the winter period only if excessive nitrogen is not available.
Eastern and western Oregon grass hay growers should follow the same recommendations as folks with pastures. Many grass hay growers with cattle like to move the animals onto the hay field after the last cutting has been removed. This long held practice may do more damage than you realize. The remaining hay stubble is high in storage sugars, just like in the pasture. Livestock tend to readily eat this plant portion because it tastes good. Without adequate storage of basal sugars prior to winter, those plants will have a distinct disadvantage in the spring. If you must graze hay fields in the fall, make sure you’ve given the field adequate time for regrowth to occur and to follow the same guidelines of stubble height minimums as for pastures.
For long-term survival of pastures and hayfields, remember to keep an eye on stubble heights and don’t graze below them. Allow roots to rebuild and shoots to develop by not grazing hard in the fall. Make plans to get on a soil testing schedule, which is usually a test every three to five years. Use that information to make the most economical fertilizer applications. By following some of these management tips, your pasture should be productive for many years.

To read the full text of this autumn pasture management article, click on the link below.

Late Summer-Fall Pastures
Late Summer-Fall Pastures
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Want to Grow Food Later in the Season?

Our friends at Clackamas Community College (CCC) are offering a workshop to those who are interested in extending the growing season for cool weather crops. In addition, they offer a workshop in aquaponics for those who want to grow food indoors all year long!

Make Your Own Mini Hoop House

Extend your season!

Extend your season!

Saturday Oct 8
9:00 AM-10:50 AM
Room Clairmont 117
Fee: $20
Course Code # XHOR-0010
Grow food year round in your own backyard. In this class you will be guided in the construction of your own mini hoop house. Bring up to a dozen, 10ft, 1/2 inch, galvanized electrical conduit.


Saturday Oct 22
8:00 AM-11:50 AM
Room Clairmont 117
Fee: $40
Course Code # XHOR-0018
Aquaponics is a food production system that combines aquaculture with hydroponics. This introductory workshop
will cover water quality, biosecurity, and plant and fish health, as well as the basic science that underlies using fish waste as fertilizer. Participants will get some hands-on experience working with CCC’s home-scale system, and get help evaluating the most appropriate aquaponics system for their needs.

How to Register:

Workshops (XHOR prefix):
Online :
1. Go to CCC website
2. Click on Search for Classes/Workshops
3. At Topic Code (scroll down in the screen) select HORT from drop down menu
4. Select the class and complete registration (requires credit or debit card payment)
[If you have any issues with this process please contact Loretta at 503-594-3292.]

District Welcomes New Conservation Specialist

Mat Van Wey at Ridgefield Farm

Matt Van Wey at Quackenbush Farm

The Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District welcomes a new employee to our professional team this week.

Conservation Specialist Matt Van Wey brings a wealth of farming, restoration, and conservation experience with him and we are excited to introduce him to our Clackamas County partners and cooperators.

Prior Experience Makes Van Wey a Good Fit for the District

Matt Van Wey

Matt Van Wey

Matt comes to the District from the Washington State Department of Natural Resources where he was a natural areas technician. In addition to his duties in resource conservation, Matt also had the opportunity to work on preserving and restoring unique habitats including massive white oak woodlands, an area in which the District finds itself increasingly engaged. He has also undertaken conservation work in the Puget Sound area and spent two years teaching environmental education science in Thailand.

Matt credits his passion for land stewardship to his parents, who instilled in him a love of gardening, fresh and local food, and exploration. He says that “epic” week-long back-packing trips with his father gave him a strong appreciation for the natural world and a desire to ensure that others could have equally life-changing experiences in the future. In his adult life, Matt has traveled the world extensively, visiting over 30 countries.

Hands-on Knowledge and Passion for Agriculture

In addition to his experience in natural areas around the world, Matt has his feet planted firmly in the agricultural community. Three and a half years ago, he and his wife, along with two of their friends, founded Quackenbush Farm, a diverse, small-scale farm in Ridgefield, WA. They grow and market over 30 different varieties of vegetables to four different farmers markets, a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), and local restaurants. He believes his agriculturist/gardener and science/ecology perspective will make him an especially valuable member of our staff. He’s looking forward to working closely with our agricultural producers, noting that he knows first hand how exciting and challenging farming can be in these innovative and challenging times.

Register for Small Farm School 2016 Today!

Small Farm School flyer 2016-2Registration is open for Small Farm School 2016! To make the offerings available to folks who have traditionally been unable to attend on a Saturday, this year’s Small Farm School will be held on Thursday, September 15, 2016 at Clackamas Community College in Oregon City. Take a look at all the great classes being offered this year!

Small Farm School is an all-day event for beginning AND experienced farmers and small acreage landowners. Field and classroom workshops will address small farm topics such as crop and livestock production, direct marketing, small-scale equipment, and soil and water management and conservation. Course offerings change each year, so if you’ve attended in the past, join us again! There’s always something new.

Classes are size-limited and will close when full. Early registration is highly recommended to ensure best class selection.

Registration Fees:

  • $75 – July 13th – August 31st
  • $85 – September 1st – September 13th

Registration fees cover class materials, lunch and coffee break. Registration fees are non-refundable, however substitutions will be allowed through September 8th. No late registrations OR walk-in registrations will be accepted. Due to space limitations, Small Farm School reserves the right to close registration on September 13, 2016 or when 250 registrations have been received.

Additional information regarding Small Farm School is available online, including the complete program and workshop descriptions, and registration form.

Attendance is limited, so secure your space today!

Hosted by

This event is hosted by OSU Extension, Clackamas County Soil and Water Conservation District, and Clackamas Community College.

Help spread the word

Please feel free to download and post the Small Farm School flyer 2016 and like us on FaceBook where you’ll find regular posts to share about the event.

Saving Water for Other Uses

percent of ave precip - National weather serviceIt is official; this was a very wet winter! According the National Weather Service, totals for the “meteorological” winter (December-

January-February) were 25 to 35 inches throughout the Portland metro area and northern Willamette Valley, about 175 percent of average. Much of this precipitation fell as rain, even in the Cascades, although some periods of colder weather and mountain snow have kept the seasonal snowpack near average.

Heat Around the Corner

We expect above average spring and summer temperatures. With the potential for another hot summer, water demand will likely be high. Conservation practices will be important tools to help us use our precious water resource wisely.

Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District is working with agricultural producers to reduce water usage. Producers have

Drip irrigation in hazelnut orchard Jeremy Baker

Drip irrigation in hazelnut field Jeremy Baker

implemented irrigation-water-management practices and installed efficient irrigation systems. For example, a Clackamas County berry grower converted from big gun to drip irrigation and realized a total water savings of 304,128 gallons per acre for the season. Additional benefits of these projects include reduced energy use, increased water availability for wildlife, and reduced irrigation-induced erosion. All this with no decrease in production!

We Can Help

If you need technical assistance to improve your irrigation system contact Clackamas SWCD at 503-210-6000 or send us a message.

Special thanks to Andy Bryant, National Weather Service for assisting with this post!

Free Family Farm Succession Program

“What Does the Future Hold for Your Farm?”

Photo by Jason Faucera

Photo by Jason Faucera

If this is a question that you have been considering, you may be interested in a free family farm succession program being offered on Tuesday, February 3 from 6-9 pm at the Milwaukie Center, 5440 SE Kellogg Creek Drive, Milwaukie, OR 97222. This program is sponsored by East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District (EMSWCD), Clackamas County Soil and Water Conservation District (CCSWCD) and the Austin Family Business Program at Oregon State University. Light refreshments will be served.

Why is this important?

The average age of farmers in Oregon is now over 59 years and many family farms are facing a transfer between generations or to someone outside of the family. There are many important issues for farm families to consider when retiring from farming. Can the current owners afford to retire, do the kids want to keep farming, and how to transfer the farm’s assets, are some of the important issues that have to be addressed.

“The Districts want to help farmers stay in business and keep good land in production,” said Rick McMonagle, Manager of EMSWCD’s Land Legacy Program. “Providing producers with reliable information about how to transfer the farm to the next generation, is one important part of a sometimes complicated process,” he said.

Who will be speaking?

This program features three prominent experts in farm transitions:

June Wiyrick Flores, Miller Nash Graham & Dunn, LLP, is an attorney who focuses on developing and implementing succession strategies for families, family businesses and closely held businesses.

Michael Menzies, farmer and financial planner at Pembroke Asset Advisors, LLC in Beaverton, OR, who works directly with farm families to find practical solutions to their financial issues.

Sherri Noxel, Ph.D., Director of the Austin Family Business Program at Oregon State University, leads many classes and workshops in farm succession planning throughout Oregon.

For additional information contact:

Rick McMonagle, EMSWCD, at 503-935-5374 or 971-271-9281
Tom Salzer, CCSWCD, at 503-210-6001
Sherri Noxel, OSU-Austin Family Business Program, at 800-859-7609

Who else is spreading the word about this event?