[montanafood_ag] MSU Research during July 8 farm tour

Rich Myers richm at ncat.org
Mon Jun 23 10:38:46 MDT 2014

Tour Highlights MSU Cover Crop Research
Second in Summer Farm Tour Series Scheduled Near Conrad on July 8

A cover-crop study being done by Montana State University and NRCS researchers will be featured in the second farm tour of a summer-long series being funded in part by the USDA Risk Management Agency.

The tour will take place July 8 on the farm of Herb Oehlke, a progressive farmer raising primarily wheat and barley on a dryland, conventional no-till operation about 24 miles east of Conrad in the Ledger community. 

Oehlke has been experimenting for six years with a variety of diverse cover crop mixes in cooperation with the NRCS and, more recently, also with MSU researchers.

The tour will feature a USDA-WSARE study headed by Perry Miller, Cathy Zabinski, and Clain Jones, which is in its third year out of four (2012 was cover crops, 2013 spring wheat). The tour will highlight May-seeded cover crops consisting of different “functional groups” including fibrous rooted plants, nitrogen fixers, tap rooted plants, and brassicas. The full mix contains eight species, and there are also spring pea and fallow controls. Spring wheat was planted across the site last year at three different nitrogen rates including a 0 N control. Tour participants will have this unique opportunity to compare and discuss various cover cropping options. 

The National Center for Appropriate Technology; the Montana Natural Resources Conservation Service; Montana State University; and Montana Farmers Union have been working with the Montana Organic Association on a project to explore cover cropping and crop insurance issues. The project is supported by the USDA Risk Management Agency. 
The tour will also include information provided by Jeff Schahczenski of NCAT on how crop insurance can be affected by cover crops.  

If you are interested in attending this farm tour or others below, please pre-register at: https://www.ncat.org/tours/

We will send you the details. If you have other questions, please contact Jeff Schahczenski by email at jeffs at ncat.org or phone at 406-494-8636.

The other farm tours set for the summer include the following:

•	July 11, 2014: A family fun day at the Bob Quinn Farm near Big Sandy. 
The day will include concurrently running tours of the operation including the 9-year rotation; experiments with new wheat varieties and alternative crops including dry land vegetables; an orchard on the prairie; and the Oil Barn - raising safflower first for food and then using waste oil for fuel. 
There also will be cooking demonstrations and activities for kids. The evening will feature a variety show and a barn dance. Meals will be sponsored by Montana Flour & Grain and Kamut International. 
•	July 16, 2014: A conventional farm tour and workshop in Toole County with mixed livestock and small-grain grower Griff Bye, who is developing a unique cover cropping and livestock system. 

Although he has never experimented with cover crop cocktails before, Griff is going about in a big way, with 10 percent of his 11,000 crop acres being planted to covers this year in some form or fashion. Griff believes in the potential of cover cropping and realizes that it will be a few years before he sees results. 

At this tour of his farm, participants will see a cool-season cover of 11 species that is being grazed by 150 cow-calf pairs, a warm season cover of 10 species, and a nine-species cover crop intermixed with the sunflower cash crop. This is an excellent opportunity to view grazing cover crops and to hear about one man’s startup experiences.

•	August 16, 2014: An organic farm tour and workshop with Judy Owsowitz at Terrapin Farm in Whitefish.

Judy is a long-time organic producer who has extensive knowledge of cover cropping in diverse vegetable production systems. With over 20 years of certified organic production, Terrapin Farm produces more than 500 varieties of diversified vegetable, herb, and seed crops and incorporates greenhouse, hoophouse, and high tunnel production. Judy interplants her cover crops. She also oversees over 30 varieties of seed production, some of which are Terrapin Farm exclusives.

This tour will also include a presentation on cover cropping in diverse horticultural operations by Andy Pressman, a farmer and NCAT specialist from New Hampshire. 

“In addition to viewing the farm,” Owsowitz says, “we are also working on a fabulous farm feast to follow the tour.”


Since 1976, the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) has been helping people by championing small-scale, local and sustainable solutions to reduce poverty, promote healthy communities and protect natural resources. In partnership with businesses, organizations, individuals and agricultural producers, NCAT is working to advance solutions that will ensure the next generation inherits a world that has clean air and water, energy production that is efficient and renewable, and healthy foods grown with sustainable practices. More information about its programs and services is available at www.ncat.org or by calling 1-800-ASK-NCAT.

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