Broken O Ranch in Augusta, Montana, is a farming operation that grows wheat, barley, alfalfa, flax, canola and chickpeas on about 12,000 irrigated acres.
A big concern at the ranch is how to handle crop residue without burning it. Most states around Montana have banned all burning of residue. Dale Clark, the farm manager at Broken O Ranch, feels that it's only a matter of time before the practice is banned in Montana as well. But he also has bigger issues with the practice.
“Burning residue not only takes time and labor, but it also adversely affects the availability of soil moisture because the ground becomes harder after burning," says Dale. "More than that, it negatively impacts nutrient availability. Nutrients are lost when ash is blown by the wind and redeposited or carried off.”
"At Broken O, we’ve been looking for a sustainable solution that we can implement right now,” he says.