BOISE — A local conservation district has purchased a no-till drill that it will lease to farmers who want to see if it works for them before they dole out tens of thousands of dollars to buy one.

The Ada Soil and Water Conservation District used a grant from the Idaho Department of Water Quality to help offset the cost of a 2014 John Deere 1590 no-till drill.

The district will lease the $60,000 piece of equipment to area farmers at the cost of $13 an acre.

The no-till concept has been slow to catch on in Idaho’s Treasure Valley and the district believes its new rental program is a good way to encourage more farmers to give it a try by providing them an affordable way to make sure it works, said Scott Koberg, the district’s former manager.

“We’re trying to provide a low-risk, cost-effective way for (farmers) to try it out,” he said.

The drill allows producers to seed with existing residue in the field, minimizing soil disturbance.

“It reduces the number of passes a farmer needs to make over the field, so it saves money on fuel and labor, improves soil health and it’s great for conservation,” Koberg said.

A demonstration field day to introduce farmers to the drill and lease program will take place Oct. 19 at 5042 W. Amity Road in Nampa.

Organizers have invited Gov. Butch Otter, who was one of the first people to ask to use the drill when fliers announcing the program were distributed. ASWCD officials plan to use Otter’s notoriety to get word of the program out.

The governor, a rancher, wants to use the drill to re-seed some pasture land near Star, said Otter press secretary Jon Hanian.

“He’s a believer in the concept and he thinks it’s a great piece of machinery,” he said.

No-till drilling has been slow to catch on in southwestern Idaho, but ASWCS officials believe the rental program will help it become more popular as farmers see the results for themselves.

“It will take awhile to catch on but once farmers see the benefits and talk to other farmers who have used it, they’ll probably come around,” said Glen Edwards, chairman of the ASWCD board of advisors.

For more information about the rental program and field day, call Edwards at (208) 573-5714.

One of the no-till success stories the district is pointing to is Hamanishi Farms, a 1,000-acre farm near Fruitland, which purchased a no-till drill three years ago.

Farm manager Jon Fabricius said the drill is used in the farm’s wheat-alfalfa rotation and saves between $150-$175 an acre in tillage costs.

Residual nitrogen from the alfalfa reduces the amount of commercial nitrogen fertilizer that has to be purchased for the wheat that follows, which saves an additional $25-$50 an acre.

Yields have been comparable to those realized in a conventional tillage system, Fabricius said.

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