Check it out: No-till Wheat Farming in Oregon Prepares Farmers for Climate Change and Improves Fish Habitat

By Janelle Christensen (she/her),USDA Northwest Climate Hub

A person walking toward two grain trucks in a field of golden stubble
Amy Kaser on her dryland wheat farm in The Dalles, Oregon. 2022. Photograph by Janelle Christensen. All rights reserved.

In The Dalles, Oregon, dryland wheat farmers are using innovative farming practices that help them prepare for extreme weather caused by climate change. The benefits of these practices extend far beyond improved climate resilience. They also reduce the impact farming can have on the local ecosystem.

As a climate change communicator, my favorite stories to share are of farmers being change-makers. Many farmers I speak with understand the dual role agriculture plays in contributing to and being affected by climate change. These farmers find innovative ways to reduce their impact, improve the land, and stay profitable as the climate changes.

Farmers in The Dalles are no different. Dryland wheat farmers in Oregon’s dry region have used no-till since the 1990s. In this practice, farmers leave plant residue on the ground after harvest. During the next growing season, they use a special machine to plant wheat underneath that residue without needing to till the soil. This practice brings a multitude of benefits for the farmers, the local ecosystem and our climate, including:

  • Reduced carbon emissions
  • Increased soil carbon storage
  • Reduced erosion
  • Reduced runoff into local creeks
  • Increased soil nutrients

In The Dalles, this practice has also protected wheat fields from recent extreme weather events like the 2021 Heat Dome. In addition, farmers have seen that reduced erosion benefits their local fish populations.

In 2022, I spoke with Amy Kaser, a farmer in The Dalles. She outlined the benefits her farm has seen since switching to no-till. Amy also spoke about how no-till has benefitted the local fish population, and how farmers are keeping streams cool as climate change makes the region hotter. In my article at the Northwest Climate Hub “No-till wheat farming in The Dalles, Oregon,” Amy Kaser tells more of her story in two short videos. Check it out!


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