American Farmland Trust (AFT), King Conservation District (KCD), and Discovery Farms Washington® are leading a Discovery Farms® project in the South Puget Sound to explore, evaluate, and promote the benefits of on-farm conservation practices that enhance water quality. The project is evaluating how different treatments of the manure storage best management practice (BMP), along with a control, impact water quality. The treatments are installed on two farms in Enumclaw, WA and on-the-ground water quality data is being monitored regularly.
The project will measure water quality data for different treatments of the manure storage BMP, including with and without roofs and floorings. It will compare various combinations of tarp coverings, roofs, and concrete floorings as compared to uncovered piles and dirt pads. Water quality data collected will include bacteria, sediment, nitrogen, phosphorus, and other micronutrients. Treatments are installed next to one another on two farms and data is being collected through winter 2020.
The Discovery Farms® model was originated by the University of Wisconsin as a way to better understand the impact of on-farm practices on water quality through applied, field-level research, outreach, and understanding efforts. It is a producer-led and results-oriented program.
King Conservation District works with farmers and property managers to provide technical assistance and cost-sharing to promote implementing BMPs on farms in King County.
On Saturday, November 14, 2020, AFT and KCD will be offering a look into manure storage research through an interactive online farm tour of Discovery Farms® sites. Technical experts will showcase the research being conducted on manure storage BMPs as well as discuss other farm practices on display at this Discovery Farm® project site including streamside buffers, gutters, heavy use areas, and how farmers can partner with KCD to improve soil health and water quality on their property.
American Farmland Trust received funding from the Department of Ecology in 2019 for its South Sound Discovery Farms® Project, a farmer-led research project, to evaluate the effectiveness of on-farm conservation practices. The project is a part of a 2016 Near-Term-Action package funded through a National Estuary Program under the management of the Washington State Conservation Commission. The project team includes AFT, KCD, and Whatcom Conservation District (Discovery Farms® Washington).