Wheat Commission Teaches About No-Tillby Dave Wilkins
Capital Press, July 15, 2011
Experts to spread word on benefits of direct seeding
Wheat farmers curious about direct seeding can learn more about the practice during a field day July 20 in Eastern Idaho.
The field day, organized by the Idaho Wheat Commission, will begin at 10 a.m. at the Gordon Gallup farm near Ririe.
The Gallup family has been using direct seeding, or no-till, on their dryland farm since 1985.
They ditched their plows and abandoned the old practice of leaving half the farm idle every summer.
After harvesting wheat in August or early September, Gallup now leaves the stubble untouched. He uses a no-till drill to seed the new crop directly into the crop residue the next spring.
It has helped to dramatically reduce soil erosion in an area where thunderstorms, bare soil and steep slopes make for a bad combination.
"It's been a great change for the soil and the water absorption rate," Gallup said.
"The organic matter is definitely building," he said. "It's been a huge plus for us."
Fuel savings are a secondary benefit. The Gallups make far fewer trips across their fields now than they did under the old summer fallow rotation.
"It required a lot of labor and tractors to get across all that acreage," Gallup said. This (direct seeding) has saved us all kinds of time."
Many farmers in nonirrigated areas of the Pacific Northwest have been making the switch to direct seeding, said Blaine Jacobson, executive director of the Idaho Wheat Commission.
In Idaho, there has been strong interest in both Eastern Idaho and the Palouse in the northern part of the state.
During the past few years the commission has sponsored a direct seed conference in March that has drawn more than 100 farmers to Idaho Falls, he said.
"We are probably seeing the most adopters in Eastern Idaho," Jacobson said.
Soil conservation and fuel savings are two of the biggest draws, he said.
"The fewer passes over the land the better, because you are able to keep more of the moisture in the soil," he said.
Following the direct seed field day, University of Idaho researchers will conduct a tour of some cereal grain field trials near Ririe beginning at 4 p.m. July 20.
For more information about the two events call the wheat commission at 208-334-2353.
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