(Northern Rockies News Service) A kinder approach to the soil could be what Idaho farmers need to get more out of their land.
The Nature Conservancy in Idaho has a demonstration farm in Twin Falls that shows the impacts of regenerative agricultural practices, such as no-till farming where a second crop is planted directly into the first crop without disturbing the soil.
Brad Johnson is agriculture strategy manager with The Nature Conservancy in Idaho. He said these practices can help farmers save money.
"It'll help them with water savings," said Johnson. "We can gain some yield, we can lower the input cost to the growers, so their margins will be higher. And we believe that has benefits for community, for our environment, for our waterways in the state."
Johnson said some of the farmers that have implemented no-till practices have reduced their fuel costs by as much as 60 percent, which is especially important right now with the high price of gas.
Other practices demonstrated on the farm include integrating livestock, reducing the use of chemicals like fertilizer, and cover-crop planting to preserve the farm's living root system.
These practices are important as the state's climate changes, and can even help sequester carbon. But Johnson said the state still is dealing with a years-long drought.
"As we get farther into this drought it's super important that growers start to adjust their practices," said Johnson. "Make a more resilient crop, make your soil more resilient to drought, store more water in the soil. That kind of thing."
Johnson said he's hearing from more "soil health curious" farmers by the day.
"These soil-health practices can and will increase the farmer's bottom line," said Johnson, "once they get through that transition period of getting their soil biology built up and perfecting these practices on their operation."