2023 Field Work Projects by State
Note: Applications for our 2024 Field Work initiative open March 20, 2024.
Robert Andrews | Mack, Colorado
Use a shredder and pelletizer machine to transform the leftover low-value wool from 300 sheep—wool that would otherwise end up in landfills—into wool pellets that can be added to the soil to improve moisture retention and reduce the need for water by as much as 25 percent.
Kyler Brown | Monte Vista, Colorado
Improve water efficiency by 20 percent by updating large pivot irrigation systems with speciality nozzles that reduce water waste from wind drift and evaporation.
Kaye Davis, Kasey Weingarten | Palisade, Colorado
Implement an innovative seed adaptation program to identify, reserve, and then plant a set of tomato, chile, and bean seeds that are resilient in hot, dry growing environments.
Melanie Eggers | Nucla, Colorado
Create a connected water management system that uses graded swales (a “terraced” system) with sediment catchment ponds to spread water more efficiently, prevent soil erosion and sediment in runoff, and provide a watering point for animals.
David Harold | Olathe, Colorado
Install a Harvest Harmonic Kyminasi Plant Booster device at the supply lines of 300 drip-irrigated acres, and test—through comparisons with control plots—whether the technology changes the harmonic frequency of irrigation water in a way that increases efficiency by at least 20 percent (as suggested).
Sharon Haugen | Center, Colorado
Use magnets, fungal additives, and sprinkler system pressure adaptations to improve water distribution and efficiency.
Dan Hobbs | Cortez, Colorado
Increase the production—and local distribution—of nine key drought-hardy small grain and legume seeds that are suitable as human food, animal forage, and cover crops in the Colorado River Basin.
Paul Kehmeier | Eckert, Colorado
Use a newly-created adapter to attach drip tape to gated pipe, reducing the cost of converting to drip irrigation, which is more efficient than the flood irrigation gated pipe is used for.
Michael Lobato | Fruita, Colorado
Adapt a machine used in the sports turf industry to insert biochar deeper into the soil to improve water retention and soil health.
Chrissy McFarren | Cañon City, Colorado
In collaboration with two other ranches, outfit cattle with electric collars to keep them away from Badger Creek—which empties into the Arkansas River—during the summer grazing season and redirect them to alternative watering points, ensuring water quality downstream.
Abe Rosenberg | Antonito, Colorado
Use a solar pump and hydronic heating system to create an artificial sublevel warm growing environment inside an insulated growing space that will improve water efficiency and extend the 90-day growing season.
Elliott H. Salazar | Antonito, Colorado
Implement an innovative way to manage flood irrigation.
Elliott L. Salazar | Antonito, Colorado
Reduce reliance on well water by reducing evapotranspiration in a greenhouse via mulches, shade, wind blocks, and other techniques. Couple this with implementing a research project focused on learning which atmospheric water generation (AWG) method will most effectively contribute to sustainable food production.
Samuel Schmidt | Saguache, Colorado
Use the relatively new Johnson-Su method to create and spread a highly-fungal type of compost on irrigated native grass meadows to understand how the application improves water retention and production volume.
Marikay Shellman | Bayfield, Colorado
Create new earthworks and plant trees to establish a biodiverse silvopasture system—integrated forest, pasture, and forage crops—with a goal of reducing irrigation water consumption by one-third and serve as an example of sustainable and drought-resistant ranching practices in southwest Colorado.
Katie Terrell Ramos | Mancos, Colorado
Combine drip irrigation and soil amendment practices to scale the production of culinary lavender in southwest Colorado, a drought-prone region where lavender is a nontraditional crop.
Elizabeth Yaari | Paonia, Colorado
On a steep, windswept hillside, construct a holistic system of terraces, trenches, a pond, and holes where dead animals can be buried for biomass and compost to improve water retention and soil health.
Stephanie Barnes | Arco, Idaho
Implement a technology not commonly used in agriculture—shade balls, or small plastic spheres floated on top of a water source—to reduce evaporation from livestock water troughs that are difficult to reach and labor intensive to maintain.
Ernie’s Organics | Shoshone, Idaho
Conduct a comparative analysis to see if an experimental method of planting beans directly into an half-acre plot of untilled soil covered with a winter barley mulch mat will outperform the conventional bean-growing method of high-intensity tillage, which exposes soil to wind and water erosion and often leads to a need for more irrigation through high rates of evaporation.
Susan Jacobson | Peck, Idaho
Implement an irrigation approach that allows for more accurate evaluation and delivery of water to a fruit, nut, and berry orchard through a variety of methods: adding a water meter at the pump where water is drawn to measure output; using a leaf pressure chamber to measure hydration levels in the trees, bushes, grasses to prevent overwatering; and installing a system of automatic valves to better deliver water.
Ryan Kulesza | Tendoy, Idaho
Install two Beaver Dam Analogue Structures (BDAS) to restore and enhance aquatic and riparian zones, improve biodiversity, water quality, and water storage capacity, and recharge the aquifer in a high mountain desert environment where the soil has water poor retention.
Brad McIntyre | Caldwell, Idaho
Use a field of biochar as a filter for irrigation water from a canal that contains run-off from other farms to determine if running the water over the biochar field improves water quality and soil health.
Edward Newcomb | Moyie Springs, Idaho
Modify the wellhead and bury irrigation materials to create a freeze-resistant irrigation system to further take advantage of the diverse farming approaches (high tunnels and swale-style fields) currently in place that allow the small farm to supply 40 families and two farmers markets with fresh produce.
Katherine Noble | Bellevue, Idaho
Install an underground magnetic tool that is purported to make water “more wet” (by breaking up large clusters of molecules so it’s easier for cells to absorb) and then conduct a comparative experiment between two plots to see if the treated water is more efficient in alkaline soils.
Jon Shoemaker | Grangeville, Idaho
Develop and implement a water deployment system to split irrigation water among the acreage’s plots by fabricating a vessel that fills with water, then pours it when it reaches a certain level (similar to splash buckets at a water park). This will allow for more targeted and reliable movement of water to production.
Jamin Smitchger | Viola, Idaho
Convert a gas pump to an electric one to take advantage of the existing solar array, and enlarge retention ponds to ensure that there is water during dry season with the goal of showing how a small off-grid farm can be successful.
Valerie Timm | Kuna, Idaho
Install thicker irrigation lines, and pressure tanks to serve them, on a test high-desert lavender field to reduce line breaks from temperature-related contractions and critters chewing on the lines (jackrabbits and mice mostly).
Kirk Tubbs | Twin Falls, Idaho
Install a solar-powered pump in a remote area where a grid connection is not possible in order to drive a drip irrigation system; drip irrigation is more efficient than the flood or pivot irrigation systems in use in the area.
David Vastine and West Harris | Melba, Idaho
Install soil moisture sensors that allow for wireless logging, tracking, and monitoring of soil conditions via cell phone. This combined with automated gates and valves will allow for automated irrigation informed by real-time data.
Sean Wilke | Caldwell, Idaho
Implement a soil moisture monitoring system that uses wireless technology to track real-time soil moisture content—which can be difficult to balance given the farm’s variable soil types—onsite and remotely, thus improving water efficiency and soil health.
Janice Willard | Moscow, Idaho
Use a specialized plow (originally developed in the 1940s by P.A. Yeoman) to make channels for water infiltration with very little surface disturbance along a specific contour pattern (called Keyline irrigation) to promote water movement from hills toward ridges.
Laura Duvelius | Whitehall, Montana
Use duck-aquaponics—irrigating with water pumped from a duck pond, so it’s rich in duck manure—directly to pastured areas to increase nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium in soil, and by doing so repair soil, increase water retention, and take advantage of rotational grazing strategies.
Kaly Hess | Arlee, Montana
Install a network of wireless soil moisture and temperature sensors, along with a wireless bridge and gateway, to precisely apply irrigation water to vegetable crops, increasing yield and decreasing plant disorders.
Anna Jones-Crabtree, Doug Crabtree, Paul Neubauer | Havre, Montana
Repurpose a snow fence technology that is commonly used for keeping roads clear of snowdrift as a snowmelt catchment innovation that can better feed existing stock ponds with water during the melting season and provide a low-cost, low-energy method of increasing water availability during the growing season.
Megan Leach | Libby, Montana
Extend the growing season and reduce labor time required for growing market and specialty crops with two key equipment additions: 1) Install a catchment system to capture water in a cistern to be used later for watering fields using a solar pump; 2) Install a freeze-proof and permanent irrigation system so irrigation lines don’t have to be moved and drained each evening.
Shaun Martinz | Billings, Montana
Build terraces and drainage trenches to capture and redirect water from heavy thunderstorms and install a micro-hydro system to generate electricity for a pump that moves the water from the cisterns and ponds up to the garden and pasture areas.
Nathan McLeod | Missoula, Montana
Combine basin farming (capturing water in shallow basins and planting crops/trees in the basins) with multilayered sheet mulching (alternating layers of compost, manure, and straw) to increase the organic soil matter. Measure savings in water and organic content of the soil against a control plot on the same field of fruits and cut flowers.
Tyrel Obrecht | Turner, Montana
Use radio collars on cattle to encourage them to move more frequently between water points and pastures, allowing the pastures to rest and improving water infiltration and soil health.
Linda Poole | Malta, Montana
Use wool to catch water (reducing runoff and recharging soil water stores) in several ways: 1) process low-value wool from the farm’s sheep into wool mats; 2) install the mats with downed trees to create Beaver Dam Analog Structures (BDAS) and other water harvesting and erosion control structures; 3) process the wool in a Johnson-Su bioreactor to produce high-fungal compost to improve soil health and infiltration rates.
Katie Pribyl | Great Falls, Montana
Install a solar watering system with a cellular-based camera and float system to pump water as needed in lieu of the currently generator-powered pump system, which is costly, inefficient, and time-consuming.
Vern Smith | Emigrant, Montana
Use a unique compost combination that includes food for hypha fungi and protein-based nitrogen, to improve soil health, allowing seedlings to establish more quickly in cobble and gravelly soils and creating greater soil moisture retention.
Karl Sutton | Polson, Montana
Deploy and evaluate the impact of using a specially designed automated seeder, synthetic mulch, and a reusable drip line to improve labor efficiency and water precision on a 15-acre organic vegetable and flower farm.
Melinda Bateman | Arroyo Seco, New Mexico
Install a gravity-fed irrigation system to move water from a central cistern to ollas—underground terra cotta pots—of various sizes, a technique used for thousands of years in China and still used around the world today; then monitor the soil and crop growth to assess the benefits (e.g., improved germination, increased crop growth, faster maturity, reduction of disease/weeds and increase in yields).
Pelle Bjorkman | Taos, New Mexico
Implement a unique design to keep the headgate of an acequia’s diversion dam clear of beaver-created detritus, which blocks water flow and limits water availability, without deterring the beaver activity altogether. The approach: use a modified beaver deceiver to feed a large outlet pipe that goes through the dam and downstream without creating rushing or gurgling sounds that stimulate beavers to dam.
Margaret Campos | Embudo, New Mexico
Use a pump with a solar back-up to move water through sand filters and digitally controlled valves with timers, all connected via Wi-Fi, to store water in a tank during the day and implement drip irrigation across the farm at night with a goal of improved efficiency, reduced labor and electric costs, and less wasted water while increasing productivity.
Rosalia Ciddio | Dixon, New Mexico
Integrate hydro-thermal systems into a walipini (an underground greenhouse that harvests rain and uses the water heated by sunlight to heat the space and grow year-round) to increase the walipini’s heat holding capacity. This will support multiple uses of the water collected during rainstorms, including extending the efficient use of water and improving crop production.
Lorenzo Dominguez | Cerrillos, New Mexico
Reduce use of well water by developing an innovative and efficient water catchment system connected to a geodesic dome that’s able to capture, store, and deliver rainfall, snowmelt, and condensation currently lost to evaporation.
Dustin Freyta | Carson, New Mexico
Implement a research project, led by Indigenous leaders, that uses Indigenous techniques and Indigenous land management practices to establish check dams, swells, and terraces that increase groundwater saturation (collectively known as water-planting); doing so should increase water retention, ecosystem stability, habitat restoration and re-enliven a groundwater spring for use in sustainable agriculture.
Ariel Greenwood, Sam Ryerson, Grass Nomads, LLC | Wagon Mound, New Mexico
Develop an open-source, satellite water-level monitoring system accessible over the internet and via cell phone to create more efficient (and affordable) herd and water monitoring and availability for cattle who graze in high-elevation, hard to reach places. This allows for better herd management, which has beneficial impacts to the larger aquifer.
Julian Laroza | San Cristobal, New Mexico
Implement syntropic agroforestry—which uses trees for shade and windbreak, alongside diverse plants, woodchips, and a water holding—on a portion of unfarmed land to improve soil health, water retention, reduce evaporation, and extend both acequia and stored water.
Robert Martinez | Taos, New Mexico
Address the uneven distribution of water on 15 acres of irrigated hay with a reverse French drain system; using a diversion, ditch, and pump system will lower the water table on the portion of the property where high water is a detriment to healthy growth and move water more effectively to an area that is difficult to irrigate.
Joyce Skeet | Vanderwagen, New Mexico
Design a dosing pump that draws humic and fulvic acids into drip lines, neutralizing chlorine and salts from municipal water to create healthier soil, thus increasing both the quantity and quality of produce grown on the farm.
Scott Sutton | Cerro, New Mexico
Develop a movable greenhouse structure integrated with thermal mass adobe walls and a rainwater catchment system that allows for more efficient use of water and an extended growing season.
William Johnston | Ranchos De Taos, New Mexico
Deploy multiple renewable energy sources (solar, wind, hydro, hydraulic) to cycle water from where it pools at the bottom of the property back up and through the vegetable field with a gravity-forced drip irrigation system, making the most of the allowed five hours of acequia irrigation water per week.
William Burton | Lander, Wyoming
Instead of using a fossil-fuel based system to pump water out of a river that runs across the property for flood irrigation, this hay ranch will use solar-powered sprinkler irrigation fed by a reservoir holding unused ditch water to more efficiently use existing water, rather than removing it from the Little Popo Agie.
Steve Dutcher | Lander, Wyoming
Install remote, solar-powered water flow measuring devices at three sites along an irrigation ditch that need frequent monitoring but are difficult to access and in an area that does not have cell or internet service; these radar and pressure sensors will be linked through a radio net and beamed via satcom to provide timely data to make decisions about irrigation. This adaptation of technology developed for tank or pond water level measuring will allow for more efficient management of water for irrigation.
Marc Pierce | Muddy Gap, Wyoming
Use a well and solar pump to create alternative water access for livestock currently damaging the riparian area near Sweetwater River through overuse; simultaneously create conditions where beavers can be re-introduced to the area and allowed to thrive with a goal of improving the water conditions around the overused riparian area.
Gabriel Ruiz | LaGrange, Wyoming
Install first-in-class irrigation probes to acquire more accurate data and therefore use water more efficiently on the main area.
Alicia Rux | Crowheart, Wyoming
Develop and test an approach to using wool pellets as a soil amendment that can be used beyond just garden and home soils and instead be applied to rangelands with a goal of improving water retention, soil health, and rangeland production.
Robert Tipton | Lander, Wyoming
Line a feeder irrigation ditch with an impermeable polyurea liner that is structurally sound, puncture-resistant, and able to stop seepage caused by hillside contouring and burrowing animals.