May 8, 2020 – April Thatcher, OFRF board member and farmer/owner of April Joy Farm, is passionate about research and, like us, believes that creating farmer-scientist partnerships is crucial to making practical management decisions. Together with the Clark Conservation District, she was awarded a three-year grant from the Washington State Soil Health Committee to study soil health on her farm. The team is working to understand how diversified farmers can both protect and improve soil health while reducing costly, unsustainable and potentially contaminated off-farm inputs.

They have developed a Soil Health Roadmap (SHR) that provides a framework and set of tools for systematically evaluating the health of your operation’s foundational asset: the living soil, and creating an integrated set of strategies for enhanced stewardship.

In a recent interview with April, she explained how the SHR has enabled her to make immediate, impactful changes and better manage nitrogen loss. “I found out the biggest nutrient losses weren’t coming from produce sales, but rather leeching from heavy winter rains. I’m armed with more knowledge now and feel as if I have real research partners who care about the success of my farm. My goal for the next two years of the grant is to help other diversified farmers create soil health roadmaps that are specific to their farms. Meanwhile, my interns get the benefit of everything I’ve learned so they don’t make the same mistakes I have.”

Visit April’s website to learn more about the project, including the five reasons for developing a soil health roadmap and a case study on the project.