PNDSA is a non-profit association formed in 2000 to provide information exchange, advocacy on conversation policy issues and research coordination that supports the adoption of environmentally sustainable and economically viable direct seed cropping systems. PNDSA unites growers under a cropping system, rather than one specific crop. We are passionate about bringing together diverse groups with common interests to advance the future of sustainable farming.
Direct seed farming systems place seed and fertilizer in one – two passes directly into the crop residue and root structure from last year’s crop. Specialized equipment opens a narrow seed row in largely undisturbed soil and the plants grow up through that seed row. The crop residue and root structure keeps the water and the soil in the field, reducing soil erosion by 90% (through wind and water), mitigates offsite movement of agriculture chemicals tied to soil particles, improving water and air quality. Other benefits include sequestration of carbon in the soil, improved soil health, reduction of fossil fuel usage and emissions, reduction of field burning, and improving wildlife habitat.
Click here to learn more about the PNDSA mission, board, and major initiatives.
Go to www.FindTheFarmer.com to meet direct seed farm families.
To provide Pacific Northwest farmers with information exchange, advocacy on conservation policy issues and research coordination that will assure adoption of economically viable and environmentally sustainable direct seed cropping systems.
Good for environment
reduces soil erosion
Crop residues anchored on the soil surface reduce erosion by water and wind by up to 90% compared to unprotected, intensively tilled soils. During the last 40 years, nearly 1/3 of the world’s arable land has been lost to erosion and continues to be lost at a rate of more than 22 million acres per year. Continuous direct seed cropping systems are recognized as a sustainable farming system by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
Improves Air Quality
Anchored crop residues significantly slow wind speed and intensity at the soil surface resulting in reduced airborne dust and herbicide particulate that can result from wind events. Reduced fuel consumption from direct seed cropping systems also reduce airborne fuel emission particulates from farming operations.
Improves Water Quality
The increased water infiltration capacity of continuous direct seed cropping systems significantly reduce surface water runoff and the potential for the translocation of nutrients and surface applied crop protection products. Low volumes and slow moving surface water that may leave direct seed fields is cleaner and carries less sediment, nutrients and toxins than other cropping systems. Also, once water has infiltrated the soil, microbes that live in carbon-rich soils help degrade pesticides and utilize nutrients to protect groundwater quality.
Reduced runoff and leaching decreases off-site nutrient loads and reduces sedimentation on country roads and ditches, streams and rivers.
Crop residues provide shelter and food for wildlife while improved water quality enhances fish and waterfowl habitat.
Good for your soil
Continuous direct seed cropping systems replace important biomass residues in the soil, feeding the soil’s micro flora and fauna and ultimately improve soil health. Healthy soil supports healthy, strong and competitive plant communities that are more resilient.
Increase Soil organic Matter and improve soil tilth
Continuous direct seed cropping systems increase soil organic matter (OM). Research has shown the more often soil is tilled, the more carbon is released to the atmosphere and less carbon is available to build organic matter for future crops. Increased OM levels result in better nutrient exchange capability and improved soil tilth for increased water holding capacity.
Improves soil fertility
In addition to increasing OM, continuous direct seed cropping systems improve soil particle aggregation and create an ideal habitat for earthworms and micro biological activity. Plants establish roots, find moisture and utilize nutrients more efficiently.
Efficient use of available moisture
Continuous direct seed cropping systems build a protective mulch on the soil surface which reduces the impact of raindrops, buffers the soil from temperature extremes and reduces soil moisture evaporation. More moisture gets into the soil and more moisture stays in the soil where crops can utilize it for increased productivity.
Channels created by earthworms and undisturbed decaying plant roots also improve water infiltration.
Reducing tillage also saves moisture. Each tillage pass uses, on average, 1/4 to 1/2 inch of soil moisture which is an equivalent of 7,000 to 14,000 gallons of water per acre - 7,000,000 to 14,000,000 gallons on a 1000 acre farm. (Rourke, Manitoba)
Contact us if you are interested in being a PNDSA Director
2016 PNDSA Board of Directors
Front Row: Rob Dewald-Past President, Ritzville, WA; Dan Harwood-Secretary, St. John, WA; Ty Meyer, Colton, WA; Rick Jones, Wilbur, WA; David Brewer, The Dalles, OR; Tim Spratling, Vice President, Pendleton, OR;
Back Row: Douglas Poole, President, Mansfield, WA; Mark Green, Asotin, WA; Eric Odberg - Treasurer, Moscow, ID; Derek Schaefer, Ritzville, WA; Lee Hawley, Moscow, ID; John McNabb, Inkom, ID; Tom Conklin, Culdesac, ID; Dave Huggins, ARS Pullman, WA; Chuck Schmidt, Rosalia, WA;
Not Pictured: Kurtis Schroeder, UI, Moscow, ID; Clark Tacke, Green Creek, ID; Brent Uhlorn, Cottonwood, ID; Travis Hillman, The Dalles, OR; Keith Morter, Heppner, OR; Don Wysocki, OSU, Pendleton, OR; Tom Demianew, Pendleton, OR; Aaron Esser, WSU, Ritzville, WA.
- Amount of Annual Rainfall: 7-9 inches
Direct Seed Equipment you use: 40’ John Deere 1870 Conserva Pak
Year started direct seeding: 2012
Why did you transition to direct seeding? There was no one “ah ha” but a series of events that led me to direct seeding. I returned to the family farm in the spring of 2011. My first huge stress was how would I ever buy all the equipment my family had accumulated over 40 years. At the same time, my uncle had already spent several years researching direct seeding and believed with the proper systems approach, direct seeding would be successful here in Douglas County. In fact, he purchased his John Deere ConservaPak and was already showing success. I spent many hours with him listening to him, questioning him and digging in his fields. It became apparent that direct seeding was so much more than saving input costs, but was an opportunity to repair our overworked soils and begin to believe that our soils have the potential to produce more than ever could be expected. The final piece to the puzzle was the fact I qualified for an EQUIP energy grant which gave me the resources to purchase my drill.
Why do you feel direct seeding is important to the future of agriculture? Sustainability!!! I now believe I will have something to leave to the next generation that will be in better shape than when I took it over.
- Average Rainfall = 9"
- Crops: Summer Fallow and Winter Wheat
- Direct Seed Equipment: Flexicoil Drill
- “We transitioned to direct seeding to conserve our shallow and low residue soils. Our biggest challenge is managing the residue, but we have decreased soil erosion, and have improved energy conservation and fertilizer efficiency. I encourage other farmers to try it and give it 5 years, you won’t go back.”
- Direct Seeder Since 1998
- Average Rainfall = 22"
- Crops: Wheat, Barley, Lentils, Garbanzos
- Direct Seed Equipment: John Deere 1895
- “A couple of major erosion events early in my farming career told me that there had to be a better way to farm. Now with direct seeding I don’t have erosion and I have more time to spend with my family. My biggest challenge has been weed control and seeding garbanzos into standing stubble. For farmer’s thinking about making the change, I recommend starting small and take advantage of the conservation programs to help pay for the conversion. Everyone wants clean air and a safe and nutritious food supply. Direct seeding provides all of those things. Topsoil is our most precious resource. Without it, we cannot feed a growing population.”
Dan Harwood has 30 years of direct seed experience from the producer level to sales consultant, experience in the fertilizer industry, and has been the manager of the Palouse Rock Lake Conservation District since 2007. Dan has extensive knowledge and successful implementation of several direct seed and conservation projects, including direct seed cost share and outreach programs, developing conservation tillage certification, and implementing 37 miles of riparian buffers on streams in his district. Palouse Rock Lake Conservation District’s provides direct seed field demonstrations, test plots, and many training opportunities.
- Direct Seeder Since 1996
- Average Rainfall = Ritzville, WA 8" & Davenport, WA 15"
- Crops: Ritzville: Winter Wheat & Barley, Davenport: Spring Wheat, Barley, Mustard, Canola
- Direct Seed Equipment: Bourgault 5810 Hoe Drill
- “We transitioned to direct seeding due to wind and water erosion, we now have very little erosion, better soil quality with more organic matter, and more even stands in our crops. The biggest challenge has been maintaining seed zone moisture in no-till fallow, but we continue to overcome those challenges by trying different seeding dates and crops. Direct seeding will work, it’s taken 120 years to deteriorate our soil so it’ll take time to build it back up.”
- Direct Seeder Since 1978
- Average Rainfall = 17"
- Crops: Wheat, barley, alfalfa
- Direct Seed Equipment: John Deere Deep Band Drill & Case Air Drill
- “We transitioned to direct seeding on a fluke, a barley field froze early before we could disk. We started disking after a rainfall and seeding behind and kept plugging the drill. So we tried drilling directly into the frozen barley residue and had a great winter wheat crop the next year. We haven’t tilled since. With direct seeding we are saving the soil, creating a cleaner environment, use less fertilizer and less fuel. I’d like to tell farmers that don’t think direct seeding will work for them to come and see for yourself.”
- Direct Seeder Since Early 1980’s
- Average Rainfall = 28”
- Crops: Winter & Spring Wheat, Lentils, Barley, Garbanzos Beans
- Direct Seed Equipment: Great Plains NT 35/0 AirDrill
- “My great-grandfather came to Moscow in 1877. Me and my son Dave are the 4th and 5th generations on our family farm. We began direct seeding to reduce soil erosion and build the soil. It takes a lot of patience and figuring out what works for you. Our biggest challenges are straw and weed management and our biggest benefits are less erosion, fewer trips, and less fuel use. I think direct seeding is important for the future of agriculture to save and improve the soil for future generations to continue to farm and improve water quality.”
Wittman Farms, Culdesac, ID
Contact: | 208-816-9700
- Average Rainfall: 11-12"
- Crops: Winter Wheat, Fall Canola, Spring Wheat, Spring Barley, Spring Mustard
- Direct Seed Equipment: 30' JD 1895 single disc, 24' Concord hoe drill, 10' JD 1590 single disc.
- Started Direct Seeding: 1997
- We initially started direct seeding as an efficient method of seeding spring crops to combat winter annual grassy weeds without aggravating soil erosion or depending solely on expensive herbicides. The advantages in productivity, efficiency, and conservation were immediately obvious. We have been using annual spring crops successfully to address weed problems and improve subsequent winter wheat crops. We are looking forward to adding more diversity in our rotation and are currently testing cover crops in place of chem fallow. Maintaining adequate residue levels to protect the soil moisture seems like one of our key challenges.
Contact: 541-571-3533 |
- Average Rainfall: 6”-10”
- Crops: Winter and Spring Wheat
- Direct Seed Equipment: Flexi Coil air drill
- On our farm south of Ione, Oregon, we have always been concerned about water and wind erosion. We started our change to direct seed in 2010 with 400 acre of direct seed the first year. By 2011 we had completely converted to the direct seed system using chemical fallow. In 2011, we also started field mapping. In 2014, we applied and received a 3 year Conservation Innovation Grant. The grant is to; study the available fertilizer in the soil, to develop a Side Banding technique, and to advance our field mapping system. The side banding uses the latest technology available to apply fertilizer in the spring of the year into the existing winter wheat crop. Currently we map all our seed, fertilizer, and yields. We are using the latest technology which include, GPSed zonal soil sampling using handheld GPS, VRA fertilizer and seed application, Farm Works software and wireless Connected Farm. Our Drill is a Flexi Coil air drill with a paired row opener. Our banding system is a Yetter 6200 N Keeper that is mounted on a homemade frame.
The Dalles, OR
Contact: | 541-993-6277
- Direct Seeder Since 1996
- Average Rainfall = 12"
- Crops: Winter & Spring Wheat, Barley
- Direct seed Equipment: Concord Air Drill with Hoe Openers
- “We initially transitioned to direct seeding to plant our spring crops more economically, the biggest benefits to direct seeding are that we are improving soil quality, wind and water erosion are non-existent now, and our farm now can support our son too. Direct seeding is saving our resources – soil, water, and fuel.”
Schafer Ranch LTD, Ritzville, WA Contact: 509-660-0086 |
Amount of Annual Rainfall: 10 inches
Direct Seed Equipment you use: Flexi Coil Air Drill
Year started direct seeding: 2013
"We are just starting to experiment with direct seeding on a portion of our farm. Our direct seeded acres are better protected from wind and water erosion and require less time and fuel than our traditional fallow acres. I feel that as we move into the future there will be new developments in the crops that we grow and the equipment that we use to make direct seeding an even bigger advantage. I am very new to direct seeding and feel that the PNDSA can provide countless benefits to both new and experienced direct seeders."
Associate Professor of Crop and Soil Science at Oregon State University College of Agriculture. Research projects are concerned with improving management of soils under dryland farming systems in relation to soil and water conservation, crop rotation, and nutrient management. http://cropandsoil.oregonstate.edu/people/Wysocki-Donald
Soil Scientist with USDA-Agricultural Research Service, Land Management and Water Conservation Unit. Dr. Huggins received his Ph.D. in soil fertility and plant nutrition with his doctoral dissertation on redesigning no-till cropping systems for increased productivity and nitrogen use efficiency. Dave is involved with many direct-seed and no-till research and grant efforts. www.ars.usda.gov
Production Ag Manager, Spokane Conservation District. Ty Meyer directs the Production Ag Department that offers many conservation programs including direct seed loans, direct seed mentoring program, conservation farm planning, workshops, and tours. www.sccd.org
Dr. Kurtis Schroeder
Cropping Systems Agronomist University of Idaho
Contact: 208-885-5020 |
Washington State University Extension; County Director, Adams County
Contact: 509-659-3210 |
- Executive Director Since 2012,
Bachelor's and Master's Degree Business Administration, Washington State University
- I grew up on a dry-land wheat farm in Uniontown, WA and loved driving truck and combine during harvest. My family transitioned to direct seeding in the early 90's and they are still learning and adapting their strategies to continue to improve their soil and operation. I've seen first-hand how the economic benefits and time savings of direct seed now supports 3 families instead of 2 as this way of farming allowed my younger brother and his family to come back to the family farm. They now farm more acres with less equipment, less diesel, less time and a healthier bottom line. Soil erosion no longer exists on their farm, their soil is black, full of worms, and productive. Just like any farm, there are equipment challenges, variety, weed, disease, and nutrient management decisions that all play into your success, but direct seeding gives farmers a margin advantage because of the fewer input costs and a fighting chance against more extreme weather patterns because of the increased moisture retention, water infiltration, and cooler soil temperatures. Our Direct Seed Association is here to help farmers make that transition and support those that currently direct seeding. Please join us in farming for a sustainable future!
The following represent the official PNDSA policy positions on issues pertinent to our mission. We welcome any input or questions you may have.
Over the next three years, thousands of acres of Conservation Reserve program (CPR) land in the Pacific Northwest will reach the end of current contracts. Given current commodity prices and the drive to develop a viable biofuel industry in the PNW, it is likely much of this land will be brought into annual crop production. Over the life of a CRP contact many environmental benefits are delivered, including protection of highly erodible land and carbon sequestration. It is the opinion of the Pacific Northwest Direct Seed Association that the return of this land to annual crop production does not have to have severe and negative environmental consequences.
To help reduce the potential negative environmental impact of this impending action, CRP contract administrators can allow and encourage landowners to adopt and utilize direct seed crop systems.
Farm Program policy provisions
Adopted October 13, 2005
- Maintaining planting flexibility - Direct seed systems enhance the sustainability of agriculture through improved economic and environmental benefits. Diversified rotations are a critical element to maintaining both the economic and environmental integrity of direct seed systems. The PNDSA endorses farm policies that continue to encourage, not penalize farmers for making planting decisions that include rotational diversity and respond to market signals.
- Conservation Incentive Payments - Growers should be rewarded by the public for adopting practices such as direct seeding that reduce negative environmental impacts on our streams and rivers. Incentive based programs that recognize the environmental benefits conservation farming practices promote can help encourage farmers to transition into direct seeding. Increased adoption of better conservation practices will enhance air and water quality as well as wildlife habitat. The public's desire for environmental stewardship in production agriculture should be balanced with the responsibility to mitigate increased costs and risk to implement these practices. The PNDSA facilitates the process of accessing public and private funding sources to address these transition costs.
- Conservation payment eligibility should be accessible on a non-discriminatory basis to producers regardless of past efforts to incorporate conservation practices in their operation.
- Family Farm Business Viability/Safety Net Programs - PNDSA believes some minimal safety net programs are necessary to insure economic integrity of family farm businesses. PNDSA believe farmers have an obligation to institute all possible measures at their disposal to operate competitively. In addition to demonstrating production skills, farmers should be encouraged and rewarded for efforts to enhance their marketing, financial and business management proficiencies. Future farm policies should consider incentive systems that fund expanded educational opportunities for farmers to build better proficiencies in these areas.
Adopted July 8, 2003; Amended October 13, 2005
The PNDSA encourages farmers to maintain crop residue in their cropping systems. Residue reduces soil erosion, retains valuable nutrient, increases organic matter, and results in healthier soils. Burning is a management tool that should be available for specific situations, such as helping to control disease and pest problems and facilitating transition into direct seed systems where heavy crop residue can make it difficult to establish a crop.
The PNDSA will take an active role in educating growers and the public about the use of burning as a management tool and alternative strategies to adopt direct seeding in heavy residue situations without destroying surface residue. The PNDSA supports increased research on viable options to field burning that do not involve increasing tillage. Research successes can substantially reduce the amount of acres burned in the PNW. The PNDSA will work with all stakeholders to promote responsible use of burning with regard to smoke management and consumer air quality concerns.
salmon recovery in the pacific northwest
Adopted July 8, 2003; Amended October 13, 2005
The PNDSA recognizes the importance of several salmon species in the tri-state region, and believes agriculture plays a key role in the process of recovery. The importance of water quality in promoting better spawning conditions is critical to that recovery. Conservation farming practices that include direct seeding can help bring endangered salmon species back to our rivers. Direct seeding contributes directly to salmon recovery through reduction of soil erosion and pesticide runoff and improvement of spawning habitat. PNDSA supports formation of partnerships with entities interested in environmental improvement that will directly enhance salmon recovery through improved production practices.
Adopted October 13, 2005
Having a comprehensive set of risk management tools is essential to PNW farmers’ viability. The design of specific program provisions in crop insurance programs should encourage implementation of diverse crop rotation systems. Some RMA policies and claims procedures penalize growers with diverse rotations, and insurance programs often fail to deliver the expected coverage purchased when the actual claims process takes place. The PNDSA recommends that the Pacific Northwest Steering Group (representatives from the major PNW commodity groups along with representatives from RMA and the insurance industry) reconvene to review a number of risk management problem areas. PNDSA encourages RMA working in concert with the Steering Group to consider the following priorities in Federal Crop Insurance programming:
- Expand application of master yields for alternative crops
- Implement a Crop Revenue Program for peas, lentils and chickpeas
- Expand winter coverage for Winter peas and lentils
- Continue efforts to make the unit agreement provisions more flexible for establishing optional units in mosaic geographic regions of the PNW
- Modify the NCIS claims manual to delete misleading information and fully implement 2002 rule change for handling dockage on pea and lentil claims
- Eliminate the practice of combining yields of unlike commodities when calculating production for claims purposes (peas and lentils; spring and fall wheat; continuous crop and summer fallow wheat