Planting update from an organic farmer in Montana

Another growing season is here and that means Montana farmers are hitting the fields planting crops like barley, lentils, peas, wheat, and more. Here is a planting update near Bozeman.

As temperatures warm up and fields dry out, farmers like those here in Montana’s Gallatin Valley and elsewhere are anxious to get back into the fields.

“Every December, I kind of get an itch where I don’t really know what’s going on but I’m a little bit anxious. What I’ve learned is that I’m realizing that spring is right around the corner and we as farmers get to be part of this wakening up of the earth... when spring is right around the corner, we’re racing to coordinate with nature, to coordinate with good soil conditions, to stick that seed in the ground. I think that’s really something you don’t really get the chance to experience in many other professions,” farmer Nate Powell-Palm states.

He says that conditions this year in the Gallatin Valley have been pretty good for planting his organic pulse, oilseed, and cereal crops considering other areas of Montana are very dry.

According to Nate, “Planting has been going pretty well. We’re about half done and we’re just dodging snowstorms right now. In Montana, we’re blessed with good spring moisture. The problem is, when it comes it might now always be perfect for us. So, we’re working to just kind of plant around the snowstorms, right now. We are planting to moisture, which is really nice, and so we’re able to put that seed right into moisture so it can get growing right away.”

He says that as a first-generation farmer, the decision to farm organically versus conventionally made the most dollars and sense.

“I wanted to figure out how to get closer to the consumer-- how do I raise a value-added product that also allows me to just farm differently,” he adds. “Organic allows me to ultimately cut down on a lot of the inputs that we would normally be using in conventional agriculture. I grow my own fertility. Ultimately not need pesticides and herbicides because I’m using cultural practices like crop rotation to realize the quality product as if it were conventional, but ultimately, it makes it so that I can have a higher value product that the consumer is really demanding.”

He says that he is proud to be a farmer: “It’s no small amount of pride in saying that we’re feeding people. We’re feeding our community and we’re feeding other communities around the world with these crops, and by ultimately raising the best crops we can, we’re making sure that people have really good food. And, that’s something that I think is really special.”