Farver Farms

Lentil crunchers from Farver Farms are just one example of alternative marketing strategies farmers in the MonDak are using to find higher profits for their pulse crops.

Pulse crop growers have a growing number of ways to seize more value for their crops these days, thanks to things like identity-preserved marketing, protein premium, and even direct marketing.

Those strategies can be a way to get higher profits, which in turn helps mitigate future production risks on the farm. Williston Research Extension Center plant pathologist Dr. Audrey Kalil and state small grains agronomist Dr. Clair Keene teamed up to write a grant underwriting a workshop on these and other alternative marketing strategies, from 8:30 to 3 p.m. CST Oct. 28 at the Williston Research Extension Center, located at 14120 Highway 2 in Williston.

This is a free event, and includes a free lunch. Those wishing to participate are asked to RSVP so a headcount is available for the free lunch by calling Kalil at 701-774-4315 or emailing her at Audrey.kalil@ndsu.edu.

Keene, who was formerly a WREC-NDSU Extension cropping specialist, said every year she got questions from people that related to alternative marketing strategies.

“Something like, I’m interested in growing oats, but the local elevator doesn’t take it, so where can I sell it?” Keene said. “Or I’m interested in trying non-GMO soybean, so how do I get the non-GMO premium for it? Those are facets of alternative marketing strategies. And so I think there’s interest in that, and I think farmers are now kind of aware that these different channels exist. You an do more with your crop than just take it to the elevator for whatever the current spot price is.”

Some of the approaches, like moving to organic production, do take a fair amount of work and perhaps even a radical shift in mindset.

That’s something Fischer, a Grenora-area farmer who is transitioning to organic farming, is all too familiar with.

“My wife was on board more than I as in the beginning,” Fischer admits.

He was trying to figure out over the winter how he would handle weeds in an organic no-till situation.

“I was thinking I gotta till the soil so I kill the weeds before they start ,you know getting away,” Fischer said. “But I have a no-till seeder.”

Then he came across an Indiana farmer on YouTube who is doing regenerative organic agriculture and started watching him. Indiana gets a lot more rain than North Dakota, so seeing the success of that farmer in managing weeds, the light bulb went off, and Fischer started to get excited.

“I was like holy cow, I think I can do this,” Fischer said.

This year, he had been going to do a little spring tilling before planting seed into it, but ultimately, he decided not to till it at all, to just directly seed durum into it. That, he believes, ultimately saved his yields on his organic acres this year.

He could see that in areas where soil was disturbed, things were dryer, and yields were far less than the area where he simply direct-seeded.

In addition to the premiums paid for organic commodities and seeds, Fischer is hoping regenerative agriculture can make his fields more resilient to drought in the future.

“We’re hoping to take care of the soil, and baby our soil,” Fischer said. “And hopefully that helps out.”

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