Whatcom Farm Speaker Series

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Whatcom Farm Speaker Series

Third Thursday of the Month

Ag Water Board logo

Farmers for Clean Water logo

October 2016 - March 2017


The Whatcom Conservation District and the Whatcom County Watershed Improvement Districts invite you to an informational Farm Speaker Series. 

From October 2016 through March 2017, this free monthly workshop brings in Whatcom Conservation District planning and research staff, as well as farmers from your area and industry experts to talk about production, management, and other topics of interest. These events are great ways to share skills and network with other farmers in your area, as well as learn about the free, voluntary, and confidential services the Conservation District provides.  

Events are family friendly!

To assure we have enough food for everyone, an RSVP is appreciated (check box below to reply), but not required.

Help us make this a successful series. Click here to take a quick 3 minute survey and give us your feedback on topics you want to hear about.  You can also contact us direct at any time to offer additional feedback (360) 526-2381x105.

This Month's Event:

How Social is Your Farm? 

Thursday March 16, 2017. 6:30 - 8 p.m. 
Glenn Echo Community Club, Everson, WA

Guest Speaker Erin Vincent, Community Relations Director with the Dairy Farmers of Washington will present a workshop style social media training. Up-to-date information regarding today’s digital consumer and input for how you might reach those consumers online. 

The training will focus on setting up Facebook Farm Pages, adjusting Facebook settings for your comfort and benefit, and understanding how to build creative content that would cause non-farmers to follow and engage with you. You will also be given ideas regarding how to connect with current, successful farm pages and agriculture groups. Co-hosted by the Sumas Watershed Improvement District.

Speakers Coming Up Next

The speaker series will be taking a break for the farming season, but we will be back again in October. Thanks for your interest in these events and if you have any topics you would like to suggest for next year, please send us an email.



Previous Speaker Talks - Videos

Miss a talk? Below are links to videos of the past Speaker Series talks. Click on the title to access the video and link to slides.


January 12, 2017 - Annual Manure Nutrient Management Training.

We have a new crop of topics this year, and by demand, are bringing a higher level of information to you. Topics include:

  • Hot topics, local issues, and update on current rules and regulations
  • Water quality update - water quality trends by watershed, what data is currently being collected and how you can access it and use it to your advantage
  • Manure management do's and don'ts 
  • Agronomics - How to create your annual manure budget for optimal crop yield and reduced nutrient losses; where to find resources, how and when to sample, and how to adjust applications in-season


January 11, 2017 - Brad Radar, Whatcom Family Farmers and Matt Arrington, WCD Intern and PhD candidate at WSU

Land Management for Productive Berries

Now is a great time of year to start planning for success in 2017. Matt Arrington, PhD candidate in berry production at WSU, will give some great tips on easy land management practices for more productive berry management including field covers, pollinator habitat, manure use, wetland conversion, and more! New land management factsheets will be introduced and provided, and 10 lucky attendees will receive coupons for free soil tests. Whatcom Family Farmers will give a brief presentation and Whatcom Planning and Development Services will be on hand to answer your frequently asked questions.

October 20, 2016 - Whatcom CD Farm Planners, Rod Perry (Dairy Farmer) and Don Hrutfiord

Winterize Your Farm

Conservation District farm planning staff presented scenarios and examples to help you winterize your farm with cover crops, roof water management, manure storage, and heavy use area footings & protection. Farmers Rod Perry and Don Hrutfiord share some tips from thei own farms. Save time and money, increase animal health and farm productivity.  Co-hosted by the Bertrand Watershed Improvement District (WID).


April 21, 2016 - Susan Kerr, Livestock and Dairy Specialist, Washington State University & Kit Galvin, University of Washington

Results from Birdsfoot Trefoil Demo Plots & Fly Control on Dairies Study

Susan shares initial results from a Birdsfoot trefoil (BFT) forage trial conducted at the WSU Northwestern Regional Extension Center. BFT is a  non-bloating legume that tolerates heavy and wet soils, and a possible alternative where alfalfa is difficult to grow and/or harvest. Kit gives a summary of preliminary findings from a fly control study that was conducted on dairy operations in Washington and suggestions on how you can combat flies.


March 17, 2016 - Frank Corey, Drainage Specialist, Whatcom CD and Jessica Shaw WSU Extension

How Buffers Work on Agricultural Drainage Ditches and How They Can Benefit Your Farm

Frank Corey started the presentation with a review of the types of buffers and how they work. Jessica Shaw then discussed how buffers improve water quality by removing nutrients and sediments, and provides water temperature control for fish habitat. Different buffer widths were considered in the discussion of buffer effectiveness for improving water quality. Some preliminary results from Jessica’s research on water temperature and fish populations in narrow buffers in Whatcom County was presented including what kind of fish are living in Scott Ditch, Elder Ditch, 4-mile, and 10-mile during the hottest month of the year.


February 18, 2016 - Dr. Amber Adams-Progar, Dairy Management Specialist, WSU 

To Feed of Not to Feed Forages to Dairy Calves

We all thought the debate on feeding forages to preweaned calves was over, until recent research convinced us to reconsider. Here Amber talk about the research behind forage supplementation in dairy calves and decide if you should feed or not feed forages to your calves.


October 15, 2015 - Dr. Nichole Embertson, Nutrient Management Specialist, Whatcom Conservation District

Manure Matters (no video link availble)

This has been a big year for manure matters. The weather this year was a challenge for crop and manure management and has left some folks scratching their heads as to how to adapt next year.  Lagoons also came under scrutiny and the new CAFO permit proposal may change how you manage your manure in the future. Not to mention that water quality sampling and assessment was a hot topic for discussion across the county. This talk discusses all these manure matters and ways you can manage manure going into the winter and new things you can do for next year. October is a great time to reflect on 2015 and start planning for next year.


April 16, 2015 - Dr. Amber Adams-Progar, Dairy Management Specialist, WSU 

Bridging the Gap Between Dairy Producers and Their Communities

How can I help my community understand what I do? Who is responsible for educating the public about dairy production? What can be done to bridge the gap between dairy producers and community members? Where is the future of the dairy industry headed? Why does the public care about animal welfare? Learn more about these questions and discuss the next steps towards bridging the gap between dairy producers and their communities.


March 19, 2015 - Dr. Susan Kerr, Livestock and Dairy Extension Specialist, WSU 

Advances in Dairy Calf Care

Research has changed many of the traditional recommendations concerning calf care. From feeding to housing to vaccinations, hear what has changed and how you can adapt new advances into your daily farm practices.


February 19, 2015 - Derek Hunt, Crop Specialist, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and Chris Clark, P.E., Professional Ag Engineer, Whatcom Conservation District

Recordkeeping Tools for Nutrient Management

In 2012, WSDA came out with a new Recordkeeping Requirements rule (WAC 16-611-020) that outlines all of the elements you are expected to meet for "proper" nutrient management. Meeting some of these new requirements can be confusing and seemingly invaluable. Chris talks about how you can meet the recordkeeping requirements with available tools and leverage that information to help you improve your nutrient management and use. Derek also gives an overview of NLOS and its potential to help you not only predict nutrient use and availability for crops, but also as a recordkeeping tool.


January 7, 2015 - Special Event

Nutrient Management Training for Dairy Producers in Western WA - Whatcom County

This special event was a day long training for dairy producers, custom applicators, and consultants on the basics of nutrient management. Click the link above to go to a page with videos from all of the speakers.


December 18, 2014 - Frank Corey, Drainage Specialist, Whatcom Conservation District

Stream Buffers and Alternatives to Drainage Maintainance

Frank talks about alternatives to expensive annual drainage maintainance including small hedgerows that can eliminate the need for drainage maintainance ever again.


November 20, 2014 - Dr. Amber Adams-Progar, Dairy Management Specialist, Washington State University

Surviving and Thriving in Cold Weather

As temperatures drop below 50 °F, newborn dairy calves struggle to maintain their body temperature and experience reduced growth rates. Learn about recent research findings and their practical applications to help your calves not only survive the cold, but thrive in it. Also, this is a chance to meet the *NEW* WSU dairy specialist from WSU in Pullman and let her know what you would like to see from her in the future.


October 16, 2014 - Dr. Nichole Embertson, Nutrient Management Specialist, Whatcom Conservation District

Minimizing the Risk of Manure Runoff this Fall/Winter

Every Fall, water quality testing in Whatcom County shows high fecal coliforms in waterways across the County. Is it your manure applications, or something else? Dr Embertson discusses how to minimize risk with your fall/winter manure applications and how you can protect water quality. Also, learn how you can measure your own water quality and participate in opportunities to measure the positive impacts of practices on your farm to see if you are part of the problem, or the solution.


April 17, 2014 - Matt Cleland, Wildlife Biologist, SDA APHIS Wildlife Service and Henry Bierlink,Whatcom Farm Friends

Options for Managing Nuisance Wildlife

USDA implements multiple tools in implementing a comprehensive wildlife control program throughout Washington State. Their purpose is to help protect resources such as livestock, property and human health and safety. Matt and Henry discuss USDA Wildlife Services’ starling and beaver trapping programs in Whatcom County over the past 15 years and what new techniques and tools may be in our future. 


March 27, 2014 - Dr. Nichole Embertson, Nutrient Management Specialist, Whatcom Conservation District

Managing Soils for Better Yields and Economics

Your soil is arguably the most important part of your farm. Healthy soils will yield better crops and yields, and reduce standing water and runoff issues. Things such as tillage, grazing, equipment, crop rotation, winter cover, and other management practices can have a beneficial or detrimental effect on your soil. Learn about the different visual and physical soil and crop assessment you can do to determine the heath of your soil. Get a virtual hands-on demonstration at how different management practices effect your soils and learn ways that you can modify your current practices to improve your soil and your overall farm economics.


February 20, 2014 - Dr. Shabtai Bittman, Crop Specialist, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Forage Production and Management

The experts from FarmWest.com have released a new comprehensive guide to forage production entitled "Cool Forages: Advanced Management of Temperate Forages". The guide has information on everything from selecting new forage varieties, maximizing manure as a fertilizer, feeding of seasonal forages, to predicting forage quality. Co-author, Dr. Shabti Bittman, talks about the secrets to forage management and how to maximize your production.


January 16, 2014 - Dr. Nichole Embertson, Nutrient Management Specialist, Whatcom Conservation District

The Interface of Water Quality and Farming

There have been a lot of water quality reports out over the years that say ag is the main source of pollution in Whatcom County, and the issue is only getting hotter. Is it all true? Dr. Embertson talks about current water quality monitoring in Whatcom County, how to interpret those results, and how you can monitor your own water quality for self-assessment. Also, learn how nutrients and pathogens get into surface and groundwater, who is contributing to water quality impacts (it’s not just dairy!), and the practices and tools available to help you limit losses. Clean water starts with you!


December 19, 2013 - Melanie Drecksel, Loan Specialist, USDA Rural Loan Development

Value Added Producer Grant Opportunity

The Value Added Producer Grant Program (VAPG) is for agricultural producers who want to add value to their products and sell the end-product to consumers.  Examples would be making jam out of berries, cheese out of milk, etc. The goal is to increase revenue to the farmer through sales of the value added product. Hear Melanie talk about what value added products can mean to your business and a new grant opportunity available to you to get you started.


November 21, 2013 - Frank Corey, Drainage Specialist, Whatcom Conservation District

Agriculture Drainage Maintenance in Whatcom County

Learn about the laws in Whatcom County that regulate drainage maintenance activities in surface water systems and hear about best management practices that will help keep you out of trouble while keeping your land drained. This is an essential talk to listen to before you do any drainage maintenance on your land, or if you want to find a way to reduce or eliminate the need to do so in the future. 


October 17, 2013 - Dr. Susan Kerr, NW Livestock and Dairy Specialist, Washington State University

A Different Kind of Prep Time

Dr. Susan Kerr gives a great talk on how 60 minutes of your time can help ensure your dairy will stay in business after an unexpected weather, supply, labor or health challenge. This presentation will help you get a good start on a farm disaster preparation plan and highlight areas to focus on to be prepared for the unexpected. Check out the attachments for lists of supplies to have on hand for various emergencies, as well as a form to get your plan started today. Like Murphy’s Law, if you have a plan, you will hopefully never have to use it. If you don’t have a plan, well….


August 15, 2013 - Dr. Nichole Embertson, Nutrient Management Specilist, Whatcom Conservation District

Customizing Fall Manure Applications for Your Soil Types

Managing manure application throughout the year is important for crop growth and stewardship. Dr. Nichole Embertson talks specifically about fall manure applications and what happens when you go from nutrient application to waste disposal. Learn which soils types should and shouldn’t be applied to after August and why that is important for optimal crop growth, winter survival, and yield. Nichole presents real world examples and data from local trials on optimal late season manure application strategies. She also talks about fall weather forecasts and how to use them to your advantage.


July 18, 2013 - Chris Clark, P.E., Professional Ag Engineer, Whatcom Conservation District

How to Identify and Fix Engineering Issues On Your Farm

Professional ag engineer, Chris Clark talks about identifying issues with lagoons, filter strips, silage bunkers, slabs, and other areas on farm. Knowing the potential issues that may be on your own farm can help you prevent them before they become a serious issue. Chris gives guidance on how to fix problem areas and keep up with proper operation and maintenance to keep your farm running smoothly.


June 28, 2013 - Dr. Troy Peters, Irrigation Engineer, Washington State University Extension

Irrigation Water Management

Come summer you may be rolling out the irrigation equipment to try and stay ahead of dry conditions, or maybe you haven't considered the benefits of irrigation for your land and crops. Dr. Troy Peters talks about irrigation water management in Western Washington dairy systems for improved yields and decreased water loss issues. He goes over the soil-water basics to help you understand when and where you should be irrigating for maximum soil and crop production.


May 20, 2013 - Dr. Craig Cogger, Soil Science Specialist, Washington State University Extension

Interpreting Your Soil Test for Better Crop Production

You are required to take soil tests every year, but are you getting your monies worth? Most people don’t know exactly what their soil test is telling them or how to fix excess/deficiencies in nutrients and other parameters for better crop production. For instance: When should you be applying lime? How does iron in soil effect nutrient availability and crop production? When is N most available throughout the year? Listen to Dr. Craig Cogger take the mystery out of your soil test and help you improve soil quality, crop production, and yields with a better understanding of your soil properties and how to work with them, rather than against them. You will be amazed how much great information you will take from this amazing talk targeted towards soil properties and implications for Whatcom County dairy crop production.


April 18, 2013 - Panel: NRCS, Whatcom CD, WSU Energy Auidtor, and Puget Sound Energy

Saving Money and Farm Better with Energy Conservation Programs

Did you know that on average dairy farms in Washington State can cut their energy bill by 30% by upgrading things like lights, pumps, coolers, etc.? And did you know that you can have all those upgrades paid for? The NRCS Energy Initiative Program is promoting energy audits and conservation as a way to save you money and increase your on-farm efficiency, and they, along with Puget Sound Energy (PSE), are willing to pay for all your upgrades. Listen to representatives from NRCS, Whatcom Conservation District, Washington State University, and Puget Sound Energy Come talk about the program, applicable practices, and how to conduct on-farm energy audits to see where you can save money. Getting paid to save money is a no brainer. See how you can enroll in the NRCS program or work with PSE direct today!


March 21, 2013 - Dr. Joe harrison, Nutrient Management Specialist, Washington State University

Feed Management: A Whole Farm Perspective

Feed management is the practice of feeding cows for maximum production, performance, and reproduction, while reducing the amount of excess nutrients, particularly nitrogen and phosphorous, excreted in the manure by minimizing overfeeding of any one nutrient.  Feed management can help reduce feed costs by feeding nutrients more efficiently and importing less feed onto a farm. In turn, the reduction of manure nutrient content can result in the need for less land to effectively meet ones nutrient balance. Hear Dr. Joe Harrison talk about dairy feed management from a whole farm perspective. In addition, he talks about NRCS cost share opportunities for those interested in developing and/or receiving funds to help implement a Feed Management Plan by looking at cow nutrition, feed, and crop indicators.


February 21, 2013 - Chris Benedict, Crop Specialist, Washington State University Extension

Increasing Crop Diversity and Production

WSU Extension Agent Chris Benedict discusses new crop rotation ideas, maximizing yields, getting more value from your crops, and the benefits of a diverse crop rotation. Chris also addresses the best varieties and methods of cover cropping to make harvest easier and reduce costs by increasing your overall feed production. Crops are a large part of the dairy business and in current economic times, increasing yields and reducing imports is key to success.


January 17, 2013 - Dr. Bill Wavrin, Large Animal Verterinarian, Dairy Nutritionalist, Dairy Farmer in Whatcom and Yakima Counties

Revisiting the Link Between Land and Cattle in the Current Economy: Making Milk from Sunlight, CO2, Water and Cow Manure

Dr. Bill Wavrin gives a unique perspective on animal, crop, and farm management from the perspective of a veterinarian, nutritionist, and dairy producer. In the current economy, new ideas and practices are vital for survival. Can you change your feed ration and actually make more milk? Can you reduce inputs into your crops and make more money with less yield? Listen to Bill talk about alternative ideas and how they can increase your overall production and economics.


December 20, 2012 - Dr. Nichole Embertson, Nutrient Management Specialist, Whatcom Conservation District

Manure Application Risk Management Practices and Tools

Want to make better manure applications throughout the year, increase yields, and limit your nutrient losses? Ever wonder if you could apply manure in January, and what happens to nutrients applied in October? Dr. Nichole Embertson talks about the tools and guidance available to help dairy producers in Whatcom County make better decisions about manure application timing, particularly in the late winter and early fall, and what the risks are with application at different times of the year. Learn about the new Application Risk Management system, Manure Spreading Advisory, Manure Application Setbacks, and other tools now available to provide flexibility and apply manure when it’s right for your crop and field conditions.


November 15, 2012 - Dr. Shabai Bittman, Research Scientist, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Phosporous and Nitrogen Management on Dairy Farms

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Crop Research Scientist and Founder of Farm West, Dr. Shabtai Bittman, gives a summary of the latest research and advances in manure phosphorous management including ways to optimize manure application for crop production. Phosphorus is a vital crop nutrient and a significant contaminant of fresh water. Because of its finite availability, P fertilizer is a diminishing resource and improved practices are needed, especially on livestock farms, to conserve P and minimize pollution. Manure application at nitrogen levels can contribute to an increase of P loading of soils, and it is suggested that solid liquid separation produces two products that can be managed more effectively than whole manure. Hear Dr. Bittman talk about ways that you can manage your on-farm P better while also increasing crop yields!


October 19, 2012 - Steve Fransen, Washington State University Extension Crop Specialist

Principles of Producing High Quality Grass Forage

Washington State University forage crop extension specialist Steve Fransen gives a hands-on lesson on cool season forage production and how to maximize yields by understanding when growth starts, when it changes, when it stops, and what happens during each of these transition times. He discusses the nutrient needs of grass throughout the year so that you can optimize manure application, and how to judge quality to save money and determine next year’s production based on your forage quality now.


September 20, 2012 - Chris Clark, Engineer and Dairy Planner at Whatcom Conservation District

Troubleshooting for Manure Storage Structures

Agriculture engineer Chris Clark from the Whatcom Conservation District helps you understand what things like slope, storage volume, and dike condition mean, and gives tips on how to address lagoon issues you may have and/or prevent them from happening. Chris also tells you how prepare for your seasonal WSDA inspection and what to do if your pond doesn’t meet criteria. Looking to add more storage? Listen to Chris talk about what your best options are.