Our goal is to maintain and improve long-term soil productivity on agricultural lands while providing voluntary opportunities for the long-term preservation of working agricultural lands in Latah County.
Latah SWCD recognizes two areas of limiting factors to the conservation of agricultural lands:
Soil Productivity addresses the inherent ability of agricultural soils to produce sustainable crops, limited by soil heal deficiencies and precision management deficiencies.
Agricultural land preservation addresses the need to maintain economically viable agricultural lands in the long-term. Limiting factors include loss of productive agricultural lands, loss of rural amenities, and crop predation by animals.
Pamphlet published by the Latah SWCD in the 1940's.
The Agricultural Lands Resource Conservation Goal is to maintain and improve long-term soil productivity on agricultural lands while providing voluntary opportunities for the long-term preservation of working agricultural lands in Latah County.
Dryland production of soft white wheat, spring wheat, barley, lentils, peas, oats, canola, and grass seed accounts for the majority of crops grown in Latah County. Tillage practice range from no-till to conservation tillage - where inversion tillage implements are used in rotation, and/or various minimum till implements are used. No-till producers typically follow a 3 year crop rotation including winter wheat - spring wheat - spring legumes, where winter wheat is the main cash crop.
Local Agricultural History
The Palouse region, including Latah County, has been reported to have had one of the highest soil erosion rates in the country. Breaking out the original deep-rooted cover of perennial grasses and forbs left the soil vulnerable to erosion by wind and water. Farming practices of the late 19th through the mid-twentieth century exacerbated these erosion problems. As topsoil eroded away, less fertile subsoil remained, and more fertilizer has been required to achieve the same crop yields. Soil loss by water erosion in the Palouse River basin from 1939 to 1972 was severe in the heavily farmed areas, where soil losses of 15-18 tons per acre per year were documented. Erosion control practices instituted since the late 1970s have reduced erosion from cropland in the Palouse River Basin by at least 10 percent. Reduced-tillage and no-tillage methods, used in combination with rotations of crop varieties and retention of more crop residues, have reduced erosion potential of Latah County’s agricultural lands significantly over the past 30 years.