Small-acreage landowners can learn about best stewardship techniques to care for their property by attending a 12-week course.
For 16 years, Washington State University Clark County Extension’s Small Acreage Program has taught stewardship principles through its Living on the Land course.
This year’s course will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursdays, beginning Sept. 5 and ending Nov. 21, at the 78th Street Heritage Farm, 1919 N.E. 78th St., Vancouver.
The cost is $35 per person or $50 per couple. Class size is limited, and advance registration is required online at go.wsu.edu/smallacreage.
“This class is a great opportunity to learn how to better manage your land,” Teresa Koper, program coordinator, said in a news release. “Not only will it help you become a better land steward, you will also learn how to effectively manage your problem areas, such as muddy pastures and weeds.”
Specific topics to be covered include:
• INVENTORY: A property plan includes orchards, structures, water and any problem areas, such as weedy fields or standing water. “The first step to stewardship is understanding the property’s assets,” said Doug Stienbarger, WSU Clark County Extension director. “Taking an inventory of resources and creating a map of the property helps with future goal planning.”
• SOIL: If it is well cared for, soil will support the growth of crops and help pastures soak up rain. “To know the health of the soil, a first step is to get a soil test,” Koper said. “A soil test will show how much fertilizer to apply so only the plants are fed and not nearby water bodies.”
• WATER: Rivers, streams and lakes can be fouled by polluted runoff from farming, ranching and other rural activities. “You can keep water bodies on your property healthy by planting trees, shrubs, grasses and sedges around water bodies to filter any pollutants from stormwater runoff,” said Eric Lambert, a clean water specialist with Clark County Public Works.
• WASTE: A single cow or horse can produce more than 50 pounds of manure a day. Composting that waste turns it into a valuable resource. Be sure to cover manure piles during rainy weather and don’t forget to maintain your property’s septic system. “Poorly managed septic systems leach waste into our waterways,” said Sean Hawes of Clark County Public Health’s on-site operation and maintenance staff. “Getting regular inspections ensures a septic system is working properly, reducing the chance for costly septic system repairs or replacement.”
• GRAZING: Overgrazing is the quickest way to damage a pasture. To get the most out of a pasture, follow the 3-inch rule. “When grass is below 3 inches, take livestock off to allow the grass to regrow,” said Gary Fredricks, WSU Clark County Extension specialist. “Only put livestock back on a pasture when the grass reaches 6 to 8 inches.”
• WEEDS: Create an integrated weed management plan that combines several control techniques. “Survey your property annually for weeds and adapt your strategies based on your success and your goals,” said Kara Hauge, a vegetation management specialist with Clark County Public Works. “If you need help identifying weeds and choosing management strategies, you can reach out to Vegetation Management for help.”
Clark County’s Clean Water Program provides financial support for WSU Clark County Extension’s assistance to small-acreage landowners.