Last week, I visited the farms and farmers in Pasco, Washington. Pasco is located in south-central Washington state, at the southern end of the great Columbia Basin. It is bordered to the west by the mighty Columbia River, which is the main transport for crops and commodities to the west coast. They are barged downriver to Portland, Oregon, where they are then shipped to points all over the world, especially the Pacific Rim.
The irrigation water is held in reservoirs throughout the basin, sometimes called “potholes”, and is then delivered to the farm fields by way of 331 main canals, 1,339 miles of lateral canals, 3,500 miles of drains and wasteways. Wow!
|A lateral canal delivering water to a farm|
Because this is a relatively new and modern irrigation system, the land has been divided in larger, more uniform-shaped fields, ranging in size from 50 to 150 acres each, as compared with older systems which have smaller and often irregularly shaped fields. The climate of south central Washington is arid; natural rainfall here is 7″ per year. The Columbia Basin Project turned desert into some of the most productive farmland in the country.
|A field of beautiful timothy hay.
This will be cut two times this year, and baled as hay for horses
Look at that pretty sky!
Columbia Basin farms grow an endless variety of crops. Alfalfa and timothy hay, potatoes, dry beans, onions, garlic, buckwheat, sweet corn, fresh peas and beans. Grapes for wine and the table, as well as all number of other fruits including cherries, pears, apples, peaches, nectarines, walnuts – all are grown on a commercial scale.
|Haylige. Like silage, only hay. This was harvested in 2012,
then set all winter in the plastic wrap, which fermented it.
The milk cows love it, and it provides super-nutrition for them too.
|John Deere tractors all lined up, ready for work|
|The tractors pull these hay-balers, to bale alfalfa and timothy hay|