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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Pacific Northwest (U.S.) In: Conversion to Sustainable Agriculture: Principles, Processes, and Practices. Stephen R. Gliessman, Martha Rosemeyer, and Sean Swezey (Editors). CRC Press Advances in Agroecology Series

Authors
item Miles, Carol - WSU
item Granatstein, David - WSU
item Huggins, David
item Jones, Stephen - WSU
item Myers, James - WSU

Submitted to: Advances in Agroecology
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: October 1, 2009
Publication Date: December 21, 2009
Citation: Miles, C., Granatstein, D., Huggins, D.R., Jones, S., Myers, J. 2009. Pacific Northwest (U.S.) In: Conversion to Sustainable Agriculture: Principles, Processes, and Practices. Stephen R. Gliessman, Martha Rosemeyer, and Sean Swezey (Editors). CRC Press Advances in Agroecology Series. pp 91-116.

Interpretive Summary: Agriculture represents a critical land use throughout the Pacific Northwest. It makes important contributions to the region’s economy, the nation’s food supply and to regional ecosystem services. As in many other regions of the U.S., adverse environmental impacts, pressure from urbanization, and chronic lack of profitability are serious sustainability challenges for Pacific Northwest agriculture. There are no simple strategies for moving towards more sustainable agricultural systems as each change in production management has far-reaching impacts on multiple production factors. We describe historic shifts in agricultural systems of the Pacific Northwest that have occurred since the initiation of agriculture by pioneers in the late 1800’s leading up to the current situation. Furthermore, we describe efforts within the region to address current and future issues of agricultural sustainability including efforts where public scientists in the region in collaboration with growers, agricultural agencies and industries have launched long-term agroecosystem studies. We summarize that throughout the region, important gains are being made in soil and water conservation, biocontrol and pesticide reduction, organic farming, and direct marketing. Agriculture, however, is heavily reliant on fossil fuels for field operations, fertilizer, transport, and processing. Opportunities for bioenergy production are being explored to both reduce this reliance and to create new value-added opportunities for farms and rural areas. Factors such as climate change are likely to impose new sustainability challenges in the future.

Technical Abstract: Agriculture represents a critical land use throughout the Pacific Northwest (PNW). It makes important contributions to the region’s economy, the nation’s food supply and to regional ecosystem services including air, water, and soil quality. As in many other regions of the U.S., adverse environmental impacts, pressure from urbanization, and chronic lack of profitability are serious sustainability challenges for PNW agriculture. There are no simple strategies for moving towards more sustainable agricultural systems as each change in production management has far-reaching impacts on multiple production factors. We describe historic shifts in agricultural systems in three agroecosystems of the Pacific Northwest: the maritime zone, irrigated tree-fruit zone and wheat-based dryland zone. Included are major conversions that have occurred in agriculture since the initiation of agriculture by pioneers in the late 1800’s leading up to the current situation. Furthermore, we describe efforts within the region to address current and future issues of agricultural sustainability including efforts where public scientists in the region, in collaboration with growers, agricultural agencies, and industries have launched long-term agroecosystem studies. We identify major indicators of agricultural sustainability as well as lessons learned from the past. Important gains are being made in soil and water conservation, biocontrol, and pesticide reduction, organic farming, and direct marketing. Agriculture, however, is heavily reliant on fossil fuels for field operations, fertilizer, transport, and processing. Opportunities for bioenergy production are being explored to both reduce this reliance and to create new value-added opportunities for farms and rural areas. Factors such as climate change are likely to impose new sustainability challenges in the future.

Last Modified: 10/25/2014
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