Fact Sheets

Farmer and Rancher Research in the West

Making changes on the farm or ranch involves taking risks. One or two years spent experimenting can lead to a financial hit too difficult to recover from. That’s where Western SARE’s Farmer/Rancher and Professional + Producer grants help out. Grantees, like the ones highlighted in this report, come up with the possible solution to a problem they face on their farm or ranch, propose a way to research the idea, and then Western SARE provides the critical support needed to experiment.The projects explore sustainable solutions to problems through on-farm research, demonstration, and education. It is expected that the results are shared with other producers. The highlights you’ll read here are just a fraction of the creative projects attempting to solve real-world problems the grants programs have funded. 

How Well Does Biodegradable Plastic Mulch Degrade in Compost and Soil?

Biodegradable plastic mulches are now commercially available, and they are designed so that they can be tilled directly into the soil to degrade. Their adoption could alleviate the disposal problem of polyethylene mulch, but there is the need to evaluate how well they degrade under different environmental conditions.

Boosting Agricultural Production through Water Use Efficiency

Western SARE has played a key role in addressing the water research needs of our region’s farmers and ranchers by funding high quality research conducted in collaboration with producers. This publication highlights five Western SARE-funded initiatives in the areas of low water use crops, partial root zone drying techniques, efficient water use technologies, and linking farmer-friendly water use efficiency programs to achieve state water policy goals.

Managing for Wild Bees

Pollination is a critical component of the crop production cycle, directly contributing to reproductive success for pollinator-dependent crops. Graduate student Hillary Sardinas evaluated the ability of hedgerow restorations to augment hybrid sunflower pollination by the native bee community. She also investigated whether rates of nesting were increased in fields adjacent to hedgerows, as well as whether the presence of hedgerows enhanced the diversity and abundance of the native bee community at different distances into fields.