Big Sky Connection Northern Plains Resource Council is holding presentations on soil health at farms and ranches across Montana. (Northern Plains Resource Council)

Click on the image above for the audio. The Northern Plains Resource Council next week will hold another presentation on soil health in Montana as part of its soil crawl. Comments from Bob Quinn, an organic farmer in Big Sandy, who specializes is innovative growing techniques in arid climates.

Eric Tegethoff

Montanans get a sense of what soil health is like on farms and ranches across the state with Northern Plains Resource Council's soil crawls.

The presentations highlight innovative agricultural methods designed to increase the sustainability and productivity of agricultural lands.

Bob Quinn, an organic farmer in Big Sandy who specializes in innovative growing techniques in arid climates, is being featured this month and said the main concern for growers in northern Montana is water.

"Every drop that falls on your land, you want to keep on the land and not have it run off," Quinn explained. "That's what we've been trying to do is learn how to better increase the water absorption and the water-holding capacity of our soils, which goes hand in hand with soil health."

Quinn pointed out that healthy soil provides greater yields and more nutritionally-dense foods. The soil crawl, which includes an on-site workshop, is on July 9 and costs $15 to attend.

Quinn noted the region has faced increasingly severe droughts in recent years. A similar event was planned on Quinn's farm last summer but had to be canceled because of the dry conditions.

He emphasized typically, there are intense droughts followed by wet cycles, but they've skipped a few of those rainier seasons recently. Quinn added it makes some of the techniques he is pioneering for arid conditions even more crucial.

"That's really important in these days," Quinn stressed. "Where water shortage is going to just be a looming and a more pressing problem continuously. 

Some techniques they will explore at the soil crawl include drought-resistance practices, such as heavy mulch and cover crops grazed down with animals.