Archive | Soil conservation

Training the Trainer – Soil Health for School and Community Gardens

Photo by Kaci Rae Christopher

Healthy soil is made up of much more than silt, sand, and clay!

Clackamas SWCD has a long history of working with our local farmers and ranchers to develop good soil health practices for their crops, fields, and pastures. Now, with the support of the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), our partners at the Tualatin Soil and Water Conservation District, and the Gray Family Foundation, the Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District is bringing soil health education to K-8 teachers, school garden volunteers, and community gardeners by offering a FREE Soil Health Workshop on Saturday, October 8th, from 8:30 – 2:00, at Springwater Environmental Sciences School in Oregon City.

Why Does Soil Health Matter?

Healthy soils help to protect many of our natural resources, including maintaining animal and plant biodiversity, contributing to water quality, and storing carbon, which can help slow global warming.

Poor soil health leads to compaction, runoff, erosion, and loss of organic matter in soils.

School and community gardens provide a living laboratory for investigation-based learning. Working with soils gets kids outside and engaged in learning by doing. Teaching about soil prepares our students to better understand their world and to conserve natural resources throughout their lives. And now teachers have access to a soil curriculum that meets Next Generation Science Standards that makes soil health lessons attractive and appropriate for teachers and their students!

Photo by Kaci Rae Christopher

Springwater Environmental Sciences School Garden

What are we doing about it?

This October, Clackamas SWCD is delivering the same valuable information we already provide farmers to our teachers and garden managers. Our upcoming workshop, offered in collaboration with Springwater Environmental Sciences School and Clackamas County non-profit Food Waves, covers the basics of soil health, showing how to care for the soil in the garden with an emphasis on preparing for winter. Participants will have a chance to get their hands dirty while testing student activities. The workshop will also provide some guidance on attracting and managing volunteers.

  • Preparing for the Winter Garden: A FREE Soil Health Workshop for School & Community Gardens
  • Saturday, October 8, 2016
  • 8:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
  • Springwater Environmental Sciences School, Oregon City

For more information or to register for this workshop, please contact Cathy McQueeney at or at 503-210-6012.


Equipment Rental Program? Why, Yes, We Have One!

6-foot no-till drill, other view

7-foot no-till drill minimizes soil disturbance

The Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District currently offers an Equipment Rental Program which makes a variety of agricultural equipment available at reasonable prices to Clackamas County residents. This program was originally created to provide hard-to-find equipment to help farmers and land managers conserve soil and water. This equipment is typically not available through other rental agencies and is often too large an investment for farmers who may only use it once or twice a year. The Conservation District recognizes that our agricultural producers have the ability to be our very best conservationists by keeping their land in production using good stewardship practices. Our Equipment Rental Program is one way we can help!

Equipment currently available includes:

  • 7′ No-till drill
  • Manure spreader
  • Harrow
  • Box scraper
  • Aerator
  • Water wagon
  • 3′ Seed drill

A complete list of equipment, their specifications, and rental rates can be found here.

Equipment Rental Info Sheet (100.6 KB, 318 downloads)

Landowners outside of Clackamas County are also eligible to rent equipment for a slightly higher rate.

For additional information about the Equipment Rental Program, please email Eann Rains or contact her by phone at 503-210-6005.

Horse Health – New for Small Farm School 2015

Horse manure

Clackamas County has a huge horse population! This year’s Small Farm School offers a track that addresses our love of horses, and our deep desire to see them healthy and living in harmony with our natural resources.

Presented by OSU Extension in cooperation with Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District and Clackamas Community College, Small Farm School is an annual one-day event held at Clackamas Community College. Each year the curriculum changes, providing attendees with a wide array of learning opportunities. This year the event will take place on Saturday, September 12, 2015.

  • Horse health, handling and emergency care (double session) – This three-hour class will focus on basic horse health and nutrition, handling and emergency care. Includes both classroom and hands-on in the field components. Instructor: Lauren Larson, DVM, Equus Veterinary Service
  • Rotational grazing and pasture management – Animal management can protect pastures from over grazing and ensure long-term productivity. Learn the fundamental principles and practices that promote healthy pastures. Instructor: Gene Pirelli, OSU Extension
  • Composting on your farm (double session) – This double session is in the classroom and the field. Join Jason, Nick and Dan to learn about the art and science of composting. You will learn how to handle different types of feedstock, estimate C/N ratio, and build compost piles that will heat up and decompose efficiently. You will learn about the composting process, turned windrows and aerated static piles. You’ll also learn about compost quality and nutrient content. In the field Dan will share practical advice about on-farm composting, and you will learn to estimate moisture content by feel, bulk density, pile volume and application rate. Instructors: Nick Andrews, OSU Small Farms Extension, Jason Faucera, Clackamas Soil & Water Conservation District and Dan Sullivan Black Locust Farm

Registration is officially open. We look forward to seeing you there!

Test Your Soil for Better Pastures

Are you wishing your pastures were healthier, had fewer weeds, and produced more forage? The time to start working on improving your pasture is now!

Testing your soil to see what nutrients your pasture needs is recommended every three years. Applying soil amendments to meet the pasture’s needs saves money, time, and helps to protects water quality!

Have questions on pasture management? We can help! Contact the Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District.

Soil Testing web

The Power of a Raindrop

We protect our homes, our cars, our belongings from theft, but have you thought about your land that may be carried away right before your eyes? As the rain falls over the next few months, check your property to see if your soil is protected from loss due to the power of a raindrop.

Splash Erosion


Celebrate Oregon Arbor Week, April 6-12

Photo image by johninportland

Celebrate trees during Oregon Arbor Week!

You’ve probably heard of the annual Arbor Day celebration, but did you know that Oregon celebrates an entire Arbor Week? Oregon Arbor Week is held during the first full week of April and is a time for residents to appreciate our state’s proud tree heritage. This week is a great time to learn about the importance of trees in your community and express support for our urban tree programs!

All of the trees in your community, including those found along streets, within parks, and in private yards, are collectively known as an urban forest. A healthy urban forest provides numerous benefits to our communities. For instance, a dense tree canopy can reduce harmful stormwater runoff by capturing nearly 20% of annual rainfall, much of which evaporates back into the atmosphere. Did you know that trees also help reduce soil erosion? You may be surprised to learn that each individual rain drop that hits bare soil causes soil erosion. Rain water runoff, now carrying soil particles, flows into our streams which, in turn, damages the critical habitat of salmon and other local wildlife. Tree branches and leaves help deflect the energy of each rain drop, which results in less soil erosion.

The urban forest also provides critical habitat for local wildlife, improves air quality, captures and stores carbon dioxide, and makes for a more pleasant neighborhood. Properly placed trees can reduce your home’s energy costs and enhance property values.

Oregon Arbor Week is a great time to plant a new tree on your property. Make sure you consider the mature size of your tree and select the “right tree for the right place.” Don’t forget to protect and maintain the existing trees in your community too. Consult with a certified arborist or a local nursery to learn proper pruning techniques for the trees on your property.

There are many ways to get involved in Oregon Arbor Week — volunteer with Friends of Trees or SOLVE on a local restoration project, organize a green team at your church or school, or contact your elected officials and express your support for urban tree programs. You can also request a “Right Tree, Right Place” workshop from Clackamas County SWCD for your local community group. For more information, contact urban conservation planner, Erik Carr at 503-210-6012.