Twin Falls, Idaho
Third generation farmer Lance Griff joined the Twin Falls Soil and Water Conservation District board in February 2009 and served as treasurer. He and his father Ron farm wheat, dry beans, corn, alfalfa, peas, and barley on their 3,700-acre operation in Twin Falls, Idaho.
In 2013, Lance started experimenting with cover crops following winter wheat. “I really liked what I observed,” he told NACD. “Since then, I have been experimenting with different cover crop mixes to build organic matter, fix nitrogen, and feed the soil biology.”
Several years of drought have made using soil health practices more difficult, but it hasn’t stopped Lance from experimenting. In 2014, Lance started no-tilling wheat and peas, and has since began no-tilling other crops as well. In 2016, he no-till planted all of his corn and dry beans into standing wheat stubble and realized significant soil health benefits and water savings. His long-term goal is to transition the farm to primarily direct seed technology.
“We were extremely pleased with how the water infiltrated the no-till soil and how our soil structure was beginning to improve,” Lance said. “We saw the need to build healthy soil and leave more residue on the soil surface in order to combat wind and water erosion, as well as improve our bottom line from fewer passes across the fields.”
Lance and his father have also noticed other improvements as a result of using soil health practices. “We have started to see yield benefits from having healthier soils and better soil structure,” Lance added, and “have been able to decrease our fuel and labor expenses due to fewer trips across the fields.”
The biggest challenge he faces is water. Lance and his father are “chronically water-short on our irrigation system,” and it has made establishing a good cover crop difficult.
Another challenge is the lack of knowledge and experience of no-tilling and using cover crops in our area, Lance said. “Most of our area is conventional till, so we have had to rely on speakers that come to the area, internet research and videos, and other means to gain knowledge.”
For more information on Lance’s operation, check out the feature article in the May 2017 edition of the Idaho Soil and Water Conservation Commission’s newsletter.