North Canadian River Water Quality Project Holds Demonstration Farm Tour in Geary

Dr. Jason Warren, agronomist with the OSU Cooperative Extension, discusses no-till with guests on the North Canadian River Water Quality Project’s demonstration farm tour in Geary

On August 1, 2013 guests were welcomed to the North Canadian River Water Quality Project’s demonstration farm in Geary. The Commission’s Water Quality Program has learned over the years that demonstration farms are the best way to increase the number of producers willing to try new farming methods. 

“Nothing beats word of mouth around here,” said Debi Carnott, the project’s outreach coordinator who lives near Geary. “When producers can drive down the road and see their neighbor having success with something new, like no-till or cover crops, it helps convince them to try it.”

Attendees on the tour were given OSU Extension Fact Sheets, grazing management booklets, and other education materials. Blue Thumb Program Coordinator, Cheryl Cheadle, gave an Enviroscape Demonstration, which is a model that shows how water picks up various nonpoint source pollutants as it travels across different landscapes including fields, lawns, and parking lots. 

The tour sites were planned so guests could observe the northern and southern boundaries of the North Canadian River watershed while listening to a brief explanation of what a watershed is. 

Land manager, Jeff Brower, discussed his experiences with no-till and demo-farm trials with cover crops and nutrient management. 

OSU extension specialists, Dr. Jason Warren and Dr. Brian Arnall, discussed the benefits of cover crops and cover crop trial outcomes. They explained that the objective of the study is to assess the benefits of summer cover crops in rotation with winter wheat. Cover crop growth was limited in 2012 due to drought conditions. Results prior to the 2012 fall wheat planting at this same location showed that the soil moisture was not significantly decreased by the cover crops because fall rainfall sufficiently recharged moisture in the soil profile. 

Project staff have appreciated OSU’s participation and their willingness to listen to local producers. “Its been great having these guys around the demo farm this year to participate in tours and answer the technical questions from producers,” said Monty Ramming, project coordinator. “I always learn something new, too. It has been a very positive experience working with them.”

OSU also discussed integrating riparian area exclusion fencing into a cell grazing management plan for the demo farm. They noted the pasture was being rested during the current growing season to allow the grass to re-grow following 2012 drought. During the 2013 – 2014 dormant season, cow/calf pairs will be over-wintered at the location. 

A Rainfall simulator demonstration was given by Commission soil scientist, Greg Scott, highlighting the water and soil conservation benefits of no-till versus conventional till, including carbon sequestration capacity. 

Tour guests observed a 2012-2013 no-tilled wheat field as Dr. Warren discussed areas of the field that had been “blocked” by exclusion fences to allow limited grazing over time. Stocking rates and length of grazing time were recorded during the study. The study’s purpose was to assess the impact of dual purpose and graze-out wheat management on soil compaction and moisture infiltration rates on no-tilled fields. 

Dr. Brian Arnall gave a presentation on the benefits of utilizing N-rich strips and GreenSeekerTM sensors to determine nitrogen rates prior to fertilizer application. This included a tutorial for conservation district staff on the use of sensors purchased for the conservation districts participating in the project. The districts plan to use the sensors to assist area producers with nutrient management decisions.