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Montana farmer-stockman. [volume] (Great Falls, Mont.) 1947-1993, January 01, 1948, Image 6

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Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86075096/1948-01-01/ed-1/seq-6/

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Farm and Ranch Experiences
Sagebrush Lands Burned
For Increased Grass Production
QAGE brush was the problem on
^ 1,000 acres of range land at the
S. E. Whitworth ranch, Beaverhead
county—brush so thick a band of
sheep with lambs couldn't get
through it—brush sapping soil nu
trients and moisture that could
otherwise have göne into producing
Natural range land on the S. E. Whit
worth ranch, Beaverhead county. Sage
brush was so thick on 1,000 acres of this
land that sheep couldn't be pushed
through it.
more and better range grass. The
story of how this brush was burned
off the range is one that could prof
itably be repeated in many other
parts of the state.
Forest Service Assists
Because the burning was done
near national forest lands, the U. S.
forest service was interested and
W. W. Wetzell at Dillon helped set
up a fire control program with fire
guards. It is necessary in any such
program to have grass enough to
keep the fire going so the brush will
burn. This increases the danger of
the fire getting out of control and
makes definite precautions neces
sarjf. Also special consideration
should be given to possible water or
wind erosion on such denuded lands.
The 1,000-acre section of land was
fortunately split into four units by a
road and two streams. This made it
possible to start the fire at one edge
Field Pitting Machine Made
From Old Disc
By EDGAR I. SYVERUD, Sheridan County
TTERE is a field pitting machine
which I "invented" this fall. I
will not take complete credit for this
invention, for the idea has been writ
ten about by several others in the
last few years. However, I had been
planning on it for some time, so I fi
nally got my neighbor, Everett
Melby, to burn off-set holes in some
worn out disc blades, and I assembled
the outfit.
The frame is an old single disc,
10-foot, and the off-set discs were
spaced double the usual distance.
There are 10 of these off-set discs,
each mounted half way around the
square shaft. I used two regular discs
next to the bumpers to prevent any
tangling or "riding" of the shafts.
Set straight across, these discs
gouge pits about 4 inches wide and
2 feet long and down to 6 inches
deep depending on the looseness of
the field. This spacing and shaping
of the pits I believe will overcome
of a plot and let it burn to the road
or streams. Where necessary, back
fires were burned in strips at night
to control burning the next day. Fire
guard strips, 10 feet wide, were
pushed out around the entire area
with a bulldozer. Assistance and ad
vice on the burning was also ob
tained from Herb Wheat of the
Beaverhead county ACA. The job
was done as an ACA project, with a
possible re-payment of near 50 per
Expect Greater Grass Yield
The burning was done about the
middle of September. A jeep be
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Here is brush land after a controlled
burning program showing just the
blackened stubs of the sagebrush above
the bare ground.
longing to Pete Sweeney a nearby
rancher was equipped as a fire patrol
wagon with a small pump and chem
ical extinguishers. Barrels of water
were placed along the fire line for
an emergency break out. Edwin,
Bernard and Louis Whitworth also
helped with the project to improve
the range capacity of the Sheep
Creek basin.
All interested parties are watch
ing for the natural grass regrowth
that should come on this burned area
within the next few years. Extension
service estimates are that from two
to four times the amount of grass
will grow on the land after burning
the brush. .
the general objection to pit cultiva
tion so often heard about other ma
chines, that is, rough riding for
wheel tractors. I found this method
smoother on the average than duck
I also aimed to disturb the clean
summerfallow as little as possible in
order not to dry it out any more than
necessary, yet leave the field plenty
rough to prevent soil drifting, catch
winter snow, check water erosion
and provide catch basins for water.
As this outfit pulls easily, it can be
hooked on behind the one-way, disc
or even the duckfoot. I believe a
spring tooth harrow will be suf
ficient to level it off for spring seed
The best working speed of the out
fit is 2 or 3 miles an hour. Faster
speeds cause the dirt to be thrown
too widely. The equipment is easily
made and very effective.
Farm Project Becomes
Recreation Area
HPHANKS to a flood irrigation
project developed on the H. C.
Christopherson farm, the town of
Froid has a lake for summer recrea
The dam for the 7-acre reservoir
was built by the soil conservation
district across a small creek and
has a 400-foot sod spillway to divert
water for flood irrigation. The lake
provides boating, swimming, fish
ing and hunting for the community.
Bullheads and other warm water
fish have been planted in the wa
ters and an estimated 500 ducks are
hatched and reared on the shores.
The reservoir means recreation to
many people in the community, but
to Christopherson it is just one of
the many conservation practices
used on the farm. There are two
stockwater dugouts and four diver
sion dams on the place. Contour
stripping is practiced and some 200
acres of alfalfa are diked and ter
raced for flood irrigation. Cropped
land includes 600 acres of wheat,
■ i \
And here is the result of controlled
brush burning showing the excellent
stand of grass from natural re-seeding.
The extension service estimates that
from two to four times the amount of
grass will grow on such land after the
brush is burned off.
240 acres of corn and 100 acres of
oats. Corn and wheat are alter
nated on some of the contour strips
with a noticeable increase in wheat
yields on land previously in com.
Eighty to 100 head of cattle are
kept on the place including 30 reg
istered shorthorns. The cattle are
allowed to "hog-off" the corn in the
field and Christopherson has defi
nite ideas on the value of such a
method. He says the cattle stand
the winter better in the corn field
they are grazing,
and they pack down the land while
Christopherson has much praise
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Pictured here is the waffle iron effect Edgar Syverud, Sheridan county, achieves
when he works a clean summerfallowed field with his homemade disc field pitter.
for the work of the soil conservation
district in Roosevelt county. He ex
plains the operation of the district
as being a farmers' co-operative .
heavy machinery organization. The
co-operative can own expensive dirt
moving machinery, leveling equip
ment and other items that could
never be purchased by an average
Then too, the district has the or
ganization and engineering help of
the national soil conservation serv
ice to keep it functioning efficiently.
As he puts it, being without the
services of the soil conservation
district now would be like giving
up electric lights after getting ac
customed to them.
He feels that many of the dis
tricts could also use a ditcher for
farm sewer systems. The dirt mov
ing equipment is very useful for
digging basements, root cellars or
trench silos.
Paradise Valley Builds
Community Dip Vat
By FRANK NESSLAR, Secretary, Paradise
nnHROXJGH co-operation of the
operators in the area and the
soil conservation district the Para
dise valley now has a community
dipping vat that can handle up to
1,000 head of cattle a day.
The need for such a vat had long
been felt and the project took shape
soon after the organization of the
soil conservation district. The op
erators learned through talks and
meetings with the soil conservation
leaders that they could, by co-oper
ating with the district, get aid in
planning conservation programs for
their farms. The logical proposition
then seemed to be, Why not con
struct a dipping vat to conserve
A site was selected, and a fund
for beginning construction was soon
raised among the co-operators. The
soil conservation district made the
survey and assisted with the plans.
A carpenter was employed to build
the vat, while operators in the dis
trict donated their labor to haul
rock, gravel, cement and build cor
In the spring of 1946 the dipping
vat was ready and had a capacity
of 2,800 gallons. The dip solution
was mixed at the rate of 1 gallon
of dip to 70 gallons of water.
Approximately 1,100 head of cat
tle were dipped that spring and
many more in the summer and that
fall. About 1,000 head a day can be
dipped with sufficient help.
A charge of 25 cents per head has
been made to date to pay for dip,
poles repairs, etc. In this manner
the vat is paying for itself.

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