Saving Water and Improving Soil Health Through LESA, Cover Crops, No-Till, and Management Intensive Grazing

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2017: $20,000.00
Projected End Date: 10/31/2020
Grant Recipient: Pat Purdy
Region: Western
State: Idaho
Principal Investigator:
Pat Purdy
Pat Purdy


  • Agronomic: barley
  • Animals: bovine


  • Animal Production: feed/forage, grazing management, grazing - rotational
  • Crop Production: cover crops, crop rotation, fertilizers, no-till
  • Education and Training: demonstration, farmer to farmer, mentoring
  • Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns, feasibility study
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity, habitat enhancement, soil stabilization, wildlife
  • Production Systems: integrated crop and livestock systems
  • Soil Management: green manures, nutrient mineralization, organic matter, soil analysis, soil microbiology, soil quality/health


    This project has two components:

    1) A replicated trial using LESA (Low Elevation Spray Application) to monitor water savings and promote water conservation

    2) An on-farm demonstration of using cover crops, management intensive grazing (MIG), and no-till to monitor whether yields are maintained for malt barley compared to a conventional system.

    Project objectives:

    1. Reduce water-use and water-loss through LESA.
    2. Maintain comparable barley yields with the incorporation of cover crops, MIG, and no-till.
    3. Reduce commercial fertilizer input by 30-50%, while maintaining average yields, through the use of cover crops, MIG, and no-till.
    4. Reduce soil erosion by eliminating bare soil with the use of cover crops.
    5. Improve wildlife habitat by eliminating winter fallow.
    6. Achieve an integrated sustainable agriculture system that improves soil health and maintains profits with comparable barley yields and animal weight gain.
    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.