About 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 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, early planting, cultivation or surface protection to prevent crusting and cracking of soil surface, diligent weed management, 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.

    To gain a foundational understanding of Dry Farming you can watch the recorded presentation: Introduction to Dry Farming Organic Vegetables presented by Amy Garrett, OSU Extension Services Small Farms Program LINK HERE. 

    2020 Dry Farm Project Virtual Field Tours

    Mark your calendars and register! The 2020 Dry Farm Project field tours will be held on Wednesday mornings at 10:00AM in August and September. There will be nine field tours featuring different elements of the five core projects; Tomatoes, Corn Breeding, Soil Management, Solar Co-location with Dry-Farmed Vegetables, and Variety Trials. 

    August 5th 10:00am: Site Suitability for Dry Farming

    In 2018 and 2019, the Dry Farming Project established experimental plots in the Willamette Valley and coastal Oregon to determine the effect of location on dry farming outcomes. In particular, we aimed to determine whether site properties, such as soil available water holding capacity, soil consistency, soil nutrient content and pH, weather, and climate, were related to the yield and marketability of dry farmed tomatoes and squash. In this virtual field day we will discuss the results of our research and advise farmers, homesteaders, and gardeners in assessing their sites for dry farming site suitability.  

    Missed it? You can view the recorded webinar LINK HERE.  

    August 12th 10:00am:  Soil Management Trial

    This year the Dry Farming Project is assessing several different soil management strategies in their effect on dry farmed tomato yield and marketability. The treatments that we are testing include a couple of mulches (leaf mulch and dust mulch) as well as several soil amendments (high compost, high nitrogen, low nitrogen, and gypsum). In this virtual field day we will be discussing the development of the experiment, early results, and lessons learned along the way.

    Missed it? You can view the recorded webinar LINK HERE.  

    Aug. 19th 10:00am: Potato Variety Trials

    What potato varieties do well dry-farmed in the maritime Pacific Northwest? This is our second year exploring this with potato breeder, Chris Homanics, and trialing 10 potato varieties with eight growers in the Dry Farming Collaborative (sponsored by The Dry Farming Institute). We will visit several of our 2020 potato variety trial sites, including a solar co-location site (InSpire Project with NREL), for this field tour and learn about site prep, management, varieties and observations thus far.

    Missed it? You can view the recorded webinar LINK HERE.  

    Aug. 26th 10:00am: Tomato Management Study

    What is the best dry farm tomato production system? There is a lot to consider! In our new WSARE grant, we are exploring soil preparation, weed management, nitrogen fertilization, staking, shading, grafting and pruning, in the hopes of developing a system that minimizes losses to blossom end rot and profitably and reliably produces delicious fruit.

    Missed it? You can view the recorded webinar LINK HERE.  

    Sept. 2nd 10:00am: Tomato Variety Trial

    What tomatoes are resilient to dry farming in the Willamette Valley’s dry hot summers? Early Girl is the standard (and the variety most grown in coastal California), but we would like to find more types, flavors and colors. This year we are evaluating 200 varieties, including scion/rootstock combinations (grafted tomatoes). In this field day we will explore the diversity and identify high performers.

    Missed it? You can view the recorded webinar LINK HERE.  

    Sept. 9th 10:00am: Bean Variety Trials

    This year, we are expanding our dry bean variety trials (sponsored by The Dry Farming Institute) to include four new Phaseolus vulgaris (common bean) varieties, as well as several Phaseolus acutifolius (tepary bean) varieties, a drought tolerant species that originates from the southwestern United States / Northern Mexico region. We will highlight our tepary bean variety trial and the promise of growing tepary beans in the Pacific Northwest, as well as ongoing breeding projects involving both legume species, and a general discussion on the pros and cons of irrigating vs. dry farming dry beans.

    Missed it? You can view the recorded webinar LINK HERE.  

    Sept. 16th 10:00am: Squash Variety Trials

    More than 30 growers in the Dry Farming Collaborative are participating in our squash variety trials this year (sponsored by The Dry Farming Institute). We are evaluating delicata (‘Zeppelin’, ‘Honeyboat’, ‘Candystick’) and maxima (‘Stella Blue’, ‘Silver Bell’, ‘Tetsukabuto’) under dry-farmed conditions. Tour trials and learn about observations from participating farmers and researchers in the field.

    Missed it? You can view the recorded webinar LINK HERE.  

    Sept. 23rd 10:00am: Corn Breeding Project

    With the financial support of the Agricultural Research Foundation (ARF), we are advancing a dry farmed field corn breeding project involving the genetically diverse, Open Oak Party Mix culinary dent corn variety (Adaptive Seeds, Brownsville, OR). Additionally, we will feature a new, pilot collaboration with the Northern Organic Variety Improvement Collaborative (NOVIC), in which we are assessing a dozen corn varieties for dry farming performance and culinary quality for nixtamalization into hominy/posole and masa. We will go over the basics of our corn breeding process, including hand pollination and principles of recurrent selection - as well as discussion on agronomic and culinary qualities of diverse field corn varieties.

    Register HERE.  Once registered you will be sent the login details for the live webinar. 

    Sept. 30th 10:00am: Harvest Showcase of Dry-Farmed Vegetable Varieties

    Celebrate the harvest and see the varieties trialed in our various research projects and learn about their performance in our on-farm trials this year from growers and researchers! This will include tomatoes, potatoes, squash, melon, dry beans and corn. The Dry Farming Institute will organize several pick-up locations in Western Oregon for a produce box featuring these varieties in advance of field day for you to see and taste (proceeds will help support next year’s variety trials!). We aren’t able to do this together in-person this year BUT we are still all in this together!

    Register HERE.  Once registered you will be sent the login details for the live webinar. 

    Thank you to our sponsors: Western SARE, USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture Beginner Farmer and Rancher Development Program, Agricultural Research Foundation, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, National Renewable Energy, and The Dry Farming Institute.


    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