DNR lessee and other dryland farmers highlighted for innovative methods

Dryland farming
Dryland farming in eastern Washington. Photo: Dale Warriner/DNR.

It’s a hearty breed of farmer or rancher that works only with the weather that Mother Nature provides to bring in their crops—dryland farmers.

One such farmer is the focus of an article in Scientific AmericanMike Nichols, cultivating thousands of acres across two counties in south-central Washington, leases state Common School trust lands as well as his own. All of those trust lands are being farmed in ways that help protect the crust on the soil to prevent moisture and wind erosion, known as direct seed, or no till.

“Nichols is a neat guy and farming in a very challenging environment,” said DNR lease manager Toby McKay with appreciation and respect.

DNR has 577 leases by this special breed of farmer on 110,000 acres of state trust lands, and those dryland grain crops earned almost $6 million last year in non-tax revenue for K-12 public schools in the state, fed their families, helped sustain their communities and provided tons of grains to the marketplace.

Scientific American article: Dryland Farmers Work Wonders without Water in the US West.

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