WARC operates much like a very highly diversified farm. On slightly less than 30 irrigated
acres, research is being conducted on a large number of crops of interest to producers. Collaborations
with other M.S.U. and Research Center faculty, includes research on a variety of row
crops including wheat, barley, durum, flax, safflower, potatoes, cereal forages, and
pulses. Each year a number of vegetable trials take place related not only to varieties,
but growing methods, and soil fertility strategies. Analysis of cold hardy berries
is underway, as well as wine grapes, table grapes, and cider apples. Producers take
part in many of these experiments, dedicating plots on their farms to test the real-world
applicability of varieties and methods. The data generated is useful for conventional
farmers and organic farms alike.
Growing fruit is a viable agricultural enterprise for small acreages. Profits are
high, but so are the set up costs. WARC research focuses on providing information
that will let fruit growers know that their investments will pay dividends.
Pulses are legume crops harvested for dry seed and include peas, beans, lentils and
chickpeas. Montana has become a leader in pulse production in the US. These crops help farmers diversify markets, break pest cycles, and add nitrogen to the soil.
Cereals such as Wheat, Barley, Rye, and Triticale are among the most widely grown
crops in Montana. In South West Montana, production is primarily focused on malt
barley and cereal forages (annual hay crops). There’s also interest in durum wheat,
a high gluten wheat used in pastas and breads.
Sustainable soil fertility management for organic vegetable farms: The Center is
involved in several projects aimed at:
- Evaluating soil health (nutrients, microbial activity, and weed seed banks) in organic
vegetable farms in Montana.
- Improving growers' abilities to manage soil fertility/health
- Develop alternative practices that integrate cover crops and livestock to provide
more balanced soil fertility, better economic returns, and reduced risk of herbicide
WARC is currently involved in four projects related to this topic:
- Weed Seed Banks on Organic Vegetable farms
- Management of Field Bindweed in Organic Systems
- Integrated Weed Management in Organic Chickpea
- Integrated Weed Management in Organic Flax
Wireworms cause damage in potatoes and other crops. The most common form of crop
protection (Neonicotinoid seed treatments)
can deter wireworm feeding but do not kill the pest. Fipronil (a phenylpyrazole insecticide)
can kill wireworms and may reduce pest abundance in subsequent years and crops. Fipronil
(Regent ®) can be used on potatoes as an in-furrow spray.