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P2 practices for irrigated farming?



Title: P2 practices for irrigated farming?

Sometimes, if we play our cards right, our professional lives and our personal lives intersect in interesting ways.  Such is the case for me at the moment.  Thanks to my overriding obsession with fly fishing, I find myself in the role of being a P2 client, rather than provider.  So of course, I'm turning to P2TECH.

As anyone who has spent 5 minutes talking to me knows already, I am a fanatical fly fisherman.  Most of the time I spend fishing is spent in the scenic Yakima River Canyon, a 1500 foot deep gorge cut by the Yakima River through basalt cliffs in the eastern foothills of Washington's Cascade mountains.  The surrounding area is semi-arid (< 10 inches of rain/year) but fertile farmlands, needing only water and seed to grow just about anything one can imagine. 

Before entering the canyon, the river flows through the Kittitas valley, a largely agricultural area with lots of hay farming, as well as corn and other grain.  Most of this is irrigated farming, and a lot of the acres are irrigated using flood irrigation.  One of the Yakima's key tributaries in this region, Wilson Creek, picks up a great deal of sediment from the 54,000 acres of irrigated land that make up it's drainage.   This sediment makes a huge impact on the river.

A group of us who use the river for recreational purposes (including many of the 30 guides who earn their living by taking people fishing on this stretch of river) are trying to engage the local ag community to work on collaborative solutions to this problem.  But my P2 experience is mostly limited to manufacturing facilities, and I don't have many tools to work with when it comes to farm practices. 

I know some of you work with the ag community quite a bit. Any suggestions for web sites, fact sheets, etc which can help me understand the issues the farmers face, and provide some effective alternatives to them?  I'm particularly interested in ways to reduce or mitigate sediment in irrigation return streams (the cattle feedlots and dairies seem to have their respective acts together, at least on this stretch of the river).

Anyone who responds is eligible for a free guided fishing trip on the Yakima, next time you're in Washington State.   I can't promise you'll catch fish, but I can probably show you real live mink, otters, beavers, bighorn sheep, and other grateful residents of the canyon.    :)

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Scott Butner
Director, ChemAlliance
c/o Pacific NW National Laboratory
PO Box 999
Richland, WA  99352
Voice: (509)-372-4946/Fax: (509) 375-2443
Website: http://www.chemalliance.org/
E-mail: scott.butner@pnl.gov
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