Farmers, ranchers and other landowners in Dewey, Blaine and Canadian Counties looking for help with no-till crop production now have the option of renting no-till drills from their local conservation districts.

Thanks to a partnership between the Oklahoma Conservation Commission and the local conservation districts in Dewey, Blaine and Canadian Counties, four new no-till drills will be available to landowners on a first come first serve basis. The drills were purchased as part of a Clean Water Act Section 319 Project in the North Canadian River Watershed, a project by EPA Region 6 in Dallas, TX and the Oklahoma Conservation Commission, in cooperation with the Oklahoma Secretary of Environment. The purpose of the project is to implement protective best management practices in the watershed to restore and protect water quality in the North Canadian River Watershed.

“These drills allow producers to try no-till and learn how it works on their land before investing in their own equipment,” said Scott Hoar, District Technician for the Blaine County Conservation District in Watonga. “Often, producers are hesitant to convert to no-till farming because of the high cost of equipment or the lack of knowledge of what it takes to no-till and what the results will be. These drills give landowners the chance to try the system out on their land.”

According to Debi Carnott, North Canadian River Local Education Coordinator for the Conservation Commission Clean Water Division, the drills will not only provide assistance to local landowners but will help reduce erosion and improve water quality along the North Canadian River System.

“By working with producers to try no-till, we can reduce the rate of erosion from farm land,” Carnott said. “Erosion often runs off into streams and rivers, clouding the water, increasing water temperature, and hindering aquatic life. In addition, bacteria, fertilizers, insecticides, and herbicides are often attached to soil particles and enter the water with the soil. By reducing erosion, we can go a long way to improving the water quality in the North Canadian River and help protect the drinking water of Watonga, El Reno, Calumet and Oklahoma City.”

According to Clay Pope, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts (OACD), these new drills are an example of local producers working together with the state and federal governments to address natural resource issues through voluntary, locally-led means.

“This is a great partnership between local folks, local conservation districts, and the state and federal governments, not only to help address natural resource concerns, but to also help the bottom line of agriculture producers,” Pope said. “Research shows that no-till crop production uses 4 to 6 gallons less of diesel per acre than conventional tillage and can save producers as much as $10 an acre in production costs. In addition, producers in the North Canadian River Watershed who switch to no-till can qualify for carbon credits that pay producers extra for the carbon sequestered in the ground. When you add these together, you not only are helping protect the drinking water of Oklahoma City, you also are also putting more money in producer’s pockets. Through the support of the conservation districts in Dewey, Blaine and Canadian Counties, the partnership of state funds that are then matched with Federal Clean Water Act section 319 funds, and with the support of companies like Western Farmers Electric that are helping by buying carbon credits, these new drills are now available for rent. This is the kind of action that makes sense both for the bottom line of producers and for the environment.”

For more information about the North Canadian River Project and cost-share practices such as no-till and conservation incentive payments such as the Carbon Program contact Monty Ramming, Project Coordinator, at 405-643-2822 or Debi Carnott, Education Coordinator, at 405-884-2868.

You can also contact the Dewey County Conservation District at 580-328-5366, the Blaine County Conservation District at 580-623-4740, the Central North Canadian Conservation District at 405-884-2383, or the East Canadian County Conservation District at 405-422-2066 for information about the no-till drills, or about the project.