Farmers Learn About Soil Health In Bozeman - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

Farmers Learn About Soil Health In Bozeman

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BOZEMAN -

Farmers gathered in Bozeman Tuesday to learn how they can better improve the soil in their fields.

It is all about going back to the basics.

Farmers today use fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides and other chemicals in their fields to help grow a healthier, stronger crop.

Farmers at the Natural Resources Conservation Service Soils Health Workshop in Bozeman today learned they don't need to use all those types of products to yield the best results.

"What we're doing is going back to the way my grandpa used to farm," Brendon Rockey. "After World War Two, inorganic fertilizers became readily available and it kind of started us down the path of destruction."

Brendon Rockey uses more traditional farming in his fields in Center, Colorado.

He told farmers in Bozeman today farmers need to treat the soil as a living organism.

"Conventional agriculture has been focused on removing life from the system," said Rockey. "And the system I'm talking about is about bringing life into the system to solve our problems."

One of those solutions was to plant cover crops.

Farmers plant cover crops when they aren't growing a crop they intend to sell.

Mark Kimm is one of a few farmers already using cover crops in his potato fields near Manhattan, Mont.

But he said he will work with cover crops even more.

"We will plant crops that combat or break disease cycles within any insects," said Kimm.  "We will plant crops that break the disease cycle with the potatoes."

By attending today's workshop, Kimm also found out he needs to add more diversity in his fields.

"Growing multi species, multi crops in the same field, in the same year because added diversity gives you lots of control to pests, disease and those kind of things," Kimm said.

Rockey suggested farmers use companion crops, like peas, with his potatoes.

That's because peas release nitrogen into the soil.

The NRCS will hold the soil workshop again Wednesday in Billings, Mont. at the Billings Hotel and Glasgow, Mont. at the Valley Event Center.

There will also be one at the Sleep Inn in Miles City, Mont. Thursday.

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