Dry Farming

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About the Dry Farming Project

Dry farming is crop production through a dry season without using irrigation. It has been practiced globally for millenia, but cultural knowledge of dry farming, and associated crops, are disappearing due to agricultural modernization, particularly our reliance on irrigation. 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.

Recordings of the 2020 Dry Farm Project Virtual Field Tours, Virtual Adaptive Ag Water Symposium, and annual Dry Farming Collaborative (DFC) Winter Convening, and more can be found in the events tab.

Brand New to Dry Farming?

To gain a foundational understanding of Dry Farming check out:

> Introduction to Dry Farming Organic Vegetables presented by Amy Garrett, OSU Extension Services Small Farms Program

> Adapting Dry Farming Techniques to Vegetable Gardens

Connect with the 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.