Dry Farming Project

It is important to note that dry farming is not a new way of farming, but knowledge sharing has been limited because practices have primarily been passed down from farmer to farmer. Compounded by the fact that there is only a very small subset of farmers that experiment with dry farming and an even smaller number have extensive experience in these farming practices, the OSU Extension Dry Farm Project plans to explore, revive, and expand awareness of dry farming.

The Dry Farming Project began in 2013 with case studies of farms in Western Oregon (Garrett 2013; Garrett 2014) and Northern California (coordinated by Community Alliance with Family Farmers) that dry farm a variety of fruit and vegetable crops. These case studies revealed a suite of management practices that support crop production without supplemental irrigation including: careful timing of tillage, keeping soil surface loose to conserve moisture in the root zone (also know as dirt or dust mulch), improving soil quality and water retention with organic matter addition (cover crops, compost, rotational grazing), increased plant spacing, and use of drought-resistant varieties.

There have been dry demonstrations in Western Oregon every year since 2015 (learn more about dry farming demonstrations)

In 2016 the Dry Farming Project expanded to include:

  1. Three dry farming demonstration and field days at OSU Extension research locations in Western Oregon.
  2. Ten on-farm trials throughout Western Oregon.
  3. Growing Resilience: Water Management Workshop Series (funded in part by Western SARE) was organized to increase our knowledge and awareness of how Oregon growers are being affected by drought, expand our toolbox of drought mitigation tools and strategies, and educate agricultural producers and professionals about management practices and strategies for farming with little or no irrigation.
  4. Dry Farming Collaborative - a group of farmers, extension educators, plant breeders, and agricultural professionals partnering to increase knowledge and awareness of dry farming management practices with a hands-on participatory approach. The original function of the DFC was to facilitate farmer-to-farmer information sharing as growers started to experiment and establish their own dry farming trials

Recently published on Dry Farming Project....

Article in Rural Connections Magazine

Article in Oregon's Agricultural Progress Magazine

Video - Adapting to a Changing Climate: Conserving Water with Dry Farming Management Practices