Landowner Chuck Long explains to crop tour participants how 10,000 trees were planted on his property for wind protection. The Union Soil and Conservation District helped Chuck and Nancy Long plant a variety of trees in four windbreaks. (CHRIS BAXTER/The Observer)
Water, rain was highlight of 37th annual crop tour
Four busloads of people spent Wednesday in the valley, braving the elements for the 37th Annual Union County Crops and Conservation Tour.
This year’s tour took participants to three local farms with much discussion focusing on water and irrigation.
The first stop was at the deepest well in Oregon where workers were setting the pump for Brett Rudd.
Rudd said he had put in a linear irrigation system to more efficiently irrigate. The linear operation is “much like a center pivot” but drags a 655-foot hose, he said.
The mainline from the well should be in place with pivots by mid-July.
“So, I don’t know how it turned out yet,” Rudd said.
Regional Geologist Jason McClaughry said wells like Rudd’s provide valuable information about the valley’s subsurface if owners are willing to share samples.
“This adds to the subsurface geological model of the area,” McClaughry said.
Faults in the valley can make it difficult to pinpoint where landowners can find water, so the more information gathered the easier it will be to help citizens looking to put in wells.
The second stop on the tour focused on the Misty Mountain Windbreak Project, where the Union Soil and Water Conservation project helped landowners Chuck and Nancy Long plant 10,000 trees.
“We really tried to do what’s right for the land,” Chuck Long said. The district planted a variety of trees on the property in four windbreaks.
“We get a lot of wind here. It dries out hard and fast,” Long said.
The third stop featured the 2012 Union County Conservation Farm of the Year. Matt Insko of M&M Farms has incorporated companion farming with grass seed and wheat.
“It worked almost better than I thought it would,” said Insko, who harvested more than 100 bushels in spring grows but did not expect any crop during the first year of planting.
He also reiterated the value of using a linear irrigation system.
“Water management is a big deal on our farm as it is for anyone,” he said.
Union County Extension Service Agronomist Darrin Walenta said linear irrigation isn’t new.
“In the last 10 years, it’s increased quite a bit. No one’s inventing more land, so you have to be more efficient with what you have,” he said.
Walenta, who helped organize the tour, said water is often a highlight of discussions.
This year, water ended up affecting tour participation in the form of rain. Walenta estimated that 120 people participated in Wednesday’s ag tour, down from an average of 130.
“It’s always an adventure,” he said.