Thanks to the Canyon and Owyhee Conservation Districts for hosting a fun and informative tour on Sept. 22, 2016. Meeting land owners who are implementing soil health and water quality BMPs, seeing what they doing and engaging in discussion is a fabulous way to learn. Kudos to the staff of the Natural Resource Conservation Service, the Idaho Soil and Water Conservation Commission, and the Canyon and Owyhee Conservation Districts along with the landowners for caring for our land and water.
The tour started at the NRCS office in Marsing on the banks of the Snake River and then we carpooled to Jason Miller and Brad McIntyre’s farms. Participants included state and federal resource specialists, Conservation District Supervisors and staff, and other stakeholders.
Graham Freeman of Idaho DEQ checks out the cover crop on Jason Miller’s field. Jason planted this cover crop in June after harvesting winter wheat. It’s a mix of plants that cows love including turnips, daikon radishes, and teff. Jason will let the cows loose soon where they are expected to put on the pounds and leave natural fertilizer behind. The plants build organic matter in the soil and prevent dust and mud from leaving the field.
Robin Hadeler of the Canyon Soil Conservation District makes sure we aren’t zapped and Tate Walters, the Owyhee District Conservationist, NRCS, explains the cover crop.
Ada Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor Joan Cloonan, above right, meets the free range chickens.
Brad McIntyre, left, explains how he raised 300 chickens, built a portable coop and keeps the birds safe from predators, all so they can spread out cow manure and eat fly eggs. Brad’s cows graze on cover crops and he moves them regularly to give the plants a chance to regrow. The cows are healthier with fewer flies but more chickens would be better. Brad says he won’t buy chicks next time.