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This was a busy week in the Columbia Basin, The National Potato Council (NPC), and the Washington State Potato Commission (WSPC) co-hosted the Agency Farm Tour. Guests from government agencies including EPA arrived in Tri Cities on Monday with the Tour officially kicking off on Tuesday July 11th.  Starting at Schneider Farms, Ed Schneider and Grant Morris discussed the Columbia Basin Irrigation Project with the group. Andrew McGuire with Irrigated Cropping Systems Agronomist, WSU Extension Office talked with the participants about Production and Economics of Washington’s Potato Industry.  WSPC’s Matt Harris, Director of Government Affairs and Matthew Blua, Director of Research & Outreach educated our participants on the work the Commission does for the industry and growers of Washington. Then, Kam Quarles the Chief Executive Officer and Mike Wenkel the Chief Operation Officer for the NPC gave an overview of the potato production in the U.S.


After the busy morning, participants got to visit Prospera Irrigation Camera Demonstration, this analyzes images of fields to determine pests and diseases, assists in yield data, and monitors agro- technical activities. They had the opportunity to talk with Sean Boyd, a Lead Technology Customer Success Specialist about the demonstration and ask questions. Later in the afternoon participants got to see another demonstration, this time for LSI Global Directed Energy Systems. This demonstration focuses on soil pests and uses pulses of electricity to kill organisms right in the soil. This has been shown to be effective in small and large research trials.


On Wednesday the group headed to the WSU Honeybee Research Facility. Dr. Tim Waters alongside Dr. Carrie Wohleb presented information on evaluating the use of Autonomous insect monitoring devices in concert with the WSU Potato Decision Aid System. Speakers from WSDA, Scott Nielsen and Kelle Davis also spoke with the group. Later in the afternoon, their final stop was at the Warden Hutterian Brethren (WHB) where they learned about fumigation equipment & application planning for the fall of 2023, spring of 2024, See & Spray Technology Review, and lastly Regenerative Agriculture. Participants got to hear from Marvin Wollman and Scott Gross from WHB, they also heard from Martin McCullough and Patrick Williams from Simplot Grower Solutions as their final speakers.

Farm Tours are a great way to help bridge the gap in communication between growers and the EPA. It is important regulations and protecting our crops do go hand in hand. Both growers and the EPA will continue to work together to ensure we do not have food insecurities or shortages and we will continue to help protect the environment.




Friday, 14 July 2023