Picabo Ranch Cows

University of Idaho agricultural extension offices in southern Idaho counties are participating in a ranch grazing experiment in Picabo, and they'll be touring the project with anyone interested on Wednesday, July 29.

The experiment explores the possibility of expanding “regenerative agricultural practices” using no-till farming, cover crops and selective grazing.

“There are major opportunities for these practices in this area,” said Grant Loomis, a University of Idaho agricultural extension educator based in Hailey.

“Although the University of Idaho doesn’t yet use this term, I would describe ‘regenerative farming’ as practices that rehabilitate soils, restore biodiversity and improve water holding capacities,” Loomis said.

Loomis said a diverse mix of seven species of cover crops were planted on 150 acres of land at Pat Purdy’s farm in Picabo, along with winter wheat. The project explores the feasibility of using such a grazing mix, which could provide both grazing for cattle the first year and the harvest of a summer crop the following year.

Loomis will head up a Blaine County Extension cover crop field tour at Picabo Livestock Company at 10 a.m. Wednesday, July 29. The tour will take place at 18401 U.S. Highway 20, five miles west from the blinking light at Timmerman Junction.

The free tour will demonstrate cover crop trials and their implementation, successes, and examples of cover crop varieties. The planted cover crop mix consists of Eco-Till Radish, Otana Oats, Stallion Brand Teff, Berseem Clover, SevenTop Turnip, VNS Phacelia and Common Vetch.

Loomis said initial assessments have indicated that after the first rotational grazing period this summer, the wheat has survived enough to likely provide a summer crop in the summer of 2021. He said the experiment will show how some species within the grazing mix of seeds, provided by Agriterre seed company, could complement others.

The experiment has already yielded some negative results.

“We found that teff, an Ethiopian grass, is not successful here because it too cool here,” Loomis said.

Loomis said he is grateful for the opportunity provided by Pat Purdy, the manager of Picabo Livestock Company, to explore opportunities for regenerative agriculture.

“Pat is very interested in soil conservation, always ready to experiment and think outside the box.”

For more information about the local Idaho Agricultural extension office go to www.uidaho.edu/extension/our-people/l-o/grant-loomis.

Email the writer: tevans@mtexpress.com

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