South Puget Sound Discovery Farms - American Farmland Trust

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South Puget Sound Discovery Farms

Discovery Farms® is a farmer-led on-farm research program. The goal of the South Puget Sound Discovery Farms® program was to evaluate the water quality impacts of manure management practices on farms in and around the Newaukum Creek Watershed in south King County, Washington. Working with partners at King Conservation District, Whatcom Conservation District, and Discovery Farms® Washington, we installed the practices in September 2020 and collected data between October 2020 and May 2021.

Discovery Farms

South Sound Discovery Farms® Project

This short video gives an overview of the sites we chose, the partners we worked with, and what we learned.

To see a comprehensive explanation of our findings and analysis, please read our full operational report.

Discovery Farms Tour

This interactive virtual tour highlights one of the two study sites in our South Sound Discovery Farms® project. Check it out!

What is a Discovery Farm?

The Discovery Farms model was originated by the University of Wisconsin as a way to better understand the impact of on-farm practices on water quality through applied, field-level research, outreach, and understanding efforts. It is a producer-led and results-oriented program.

A Discovery Farm is an operating farm cooperatively participating in an on-farm systems research/evaluation/demonstration project. The goal of the Discovery Farm program is to:

  • Increase understanding of impacts of agricultural practices on water quality, and other natural resources, and work toward reducing adverse impacts though a collaborative approach;
  • Provide research-based information on agricultural production and natural resource management to public policymakers;
  • Promote the economic viability of agriculture across diverse livestock and cropping systems.

Newaukum Creek

Located in the upper reaches of the Green River watershed in eastern King County, the Newaukum Creek area is home to dairy, livestock, horses, and field crop farms.

Farms border six miles of the creek, where lack of riparian vegetation and livestock access to streams contribute to the creek’s water-quality issues. The greatest problems for salmon and wildlife habitat are unhealthy water temperature and the amount of fecal coliform from both humans and livestock. This project builds on AFT’s past work and the important work of our partner King Conservation District, which has successfully enlisted a quarter of area landowners in replanting efforts to address these issues. Our Discovery Farms project serves to quantify the outcomes of these efforts and enlist more area landowners in solutions.


Agricultural-Municipal Water Partnerships Report

This report is a collaboration between American Farmland Trust (AFT) and Willamette Partnership and emphasizes opportunities for organizations such as these to support development of agricultural-municipal water partnerships in Pacific Northwest communities. Read more here.


This project has been funded wholly or in part by the United States Environmental Protection Agency under assistance agreement PC-01J18101 to the Washington State Department of Ecology. The contents of this document do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Environmental Protection Agency, nor does mention of trade names or commercial products constitute endorsement or recommendation for use.