SODA SPRINGS, Idaho-Growers in Caribou and Bear Lake counties may soon have the opportunity to try no-till farming without having to invest in costly new equipment.
The Caribou Soil Conservation District and Bear Lake Soil & Water Conservation District are mulling a plan to cooperatively acquire a no-till drill to rent to local farmers.
Pauline Bassett, administrative assistant with the Caribou Soil and Water Conservation District, said a drill would likely cost between $50,000 and $70,000 and would be purchased with funds from the two districts and a low-interest loan through the Idaho Soil and Water Conservation Commission. The districts are now checking different companies' drill prices. Bassett said her district plans to have meetings with growers soon to gauge interest in the concept.
"We even discussed hiring somebody who would be in charge of moving (the drill) for landowners, just getting it to their places," Bassett said.
Bassett explained Caribou County grain fields are planted earlier in the season than Bear Lake County fields, so the drill would be available to producers in both counties.
Lisa Transtrum, administrative assistant with the Bear Lake district, said her office used to rent a no-till drill and will also seek grower input about the proposal.
"The district really likes to partner with agencies that have the same goals as we do," Transtrum said.
The two districts got the idea from the Ada and Canyon soil and water conservation districts, which received a drill to rent growers just before the ground froze this October. Paul Woods, a board member with the Ada Soil and Water Conservation District, said their drill rental fee is $13 per acre. This season, there was only time for a single grower to use the drill, but Woods said he's encouraged by the interest in both counties.
"We have had a number of growers and producers who really want to rent it and try it out and get familiar with the technology," Woods said. "No-till is better for soil health and it's better for water quality, and that's our mission as a conservation district."
Jeff Godfrey, president of Caribou County Grain Growers, believes a no-till drill for rent would be a popular option among farmers in his area.
"There are people watching those who have already got them, myself for one, and kind of been taking an interest in deciding if that's the way we might want to go in the future or not," Godfrey said. "I've been watching the no-tills, and the grain seems to pop out of the ground pretty good behind them."