OCR Interpretation

Montana farmer-stockman. [volume] (Great Falls, Mont.) 1947-1993, June 01, 1950, Image 1

Image and text provided by Montana Historical Society; Helena, MT

Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86075096/1950-06-01/ed-1/seq-1/

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Over-all view of some of the wet land in Montana
that needs drainage. This picture was taken near
Lowry, Mont. Weeds, willows and undesirable grasses
*re the principal vegetation.
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. V
70,000 Acres Salvaged
Drainage Ditches Open New Frontier
By TRUMAN C. ANDERSON , State Conservationist
U . S. Soil Conservation Service
NEARLY 40,000 ACRES of land have
been drained by systems built by farmers
and ranchers in Montana soil conservation
districts. This has involved 1,500,000 cubic
yards of excavation. Sixteen thousand acres
of the drainage was accomplished last year
and SCS technicians are doing the technical
work preparatory to drainage of some 30,
000 acres more, at the request of district
One of Montana's Biggest Jobs
Significance of these figures is that they
are a start on one of the biggest jobs Mon
tana faces today.
Here is what drainage has meant to
some of the farmers and ranchers.
Harvey Naslund near Chinook, co-oper
ating with the Paradise soil conservation
district, has a 35-acre irrigated field that in
1949 produced a good wheat crop, on land
first drained in 1948. For the 10 previous
years that he had been on the farm, he said,
this field had produced only a little grass. It
wasn't even fair pasture.
Near Belgrade, Frank DeHaan, co-oper
ating with the Three Rivers soil conserva
tion district, is operating a good livestock
enterprise on land that was swampy and
produced only rushes and sedges until it
was drained. His father, a farmer in the
Holland settlement area, bought the land
and, together with his neighbor, the Spain
brothers, built the drainage ditch. Feed
crops and high quality forage grasses are
being seeded there now.
Swamp io Hayland
Six farmers along Crow creek near Tos
ton, co-operating with the Broadwater
county soil conservation district, teamed up
to get rid of the excess water that kept the
land soggy. This land was pastured some
what, but hay could not be cut. The pasture
is improving now with the natural increase
in the better quality forage grasses, and the
farmers are harvesting hay there, also.
Three of them—George Rouser, Robert
Barrington and Maurice Ferrot—now irri
gate land with the drainage water.
Roy Rammell near Fort Shaw, a co-oper
ator with the Sun river soil conservation
district, has 300 irrigated acres that now
produce good yields of potatoes and other
crops where previously he could grow little,
A relatively shallow ditch along the lower
side of the and has lowered the water table
enough to reclaim this land. Soil conserva
tion service technicians helped plan the
drainage, and the reclamation service
helped build it.
Drain to Irrigate
Having to drain land in order to be able
to irrigate it may seem a paradox to many
people. But ,the fact remains that even in
this low-rainfall country, where irrigation
is practiced, the ground water level is so
high in many places that only sedges and
other low quality vegetation can grow. Be
sides this, a high water table often brings
salts to the surface.
Not all wet lands are suited for drainage.
Some cannot be drained, and some are too
poor to justify the expense. The drained
lands and nearly all that are classed as
suited for drainage are potentially of high
quality. Some are wet because of natural
sepage from higher land to stream courses,
particularly from the mountains. Others
suffer the consequences of over-irrigation
or seepage from irrigation canals. On many,
there is a conbination of the natural and
man-made causes. In still other instances,
stream over-flow causes the trouble.
Requirements Vary
Deep drains are required to lower the
water table at some places, but at others,
surface drainage alone will meet the situa
(Please turn to page 20)
tion. Some
M 4
—Photo by Soli Conservation Service
Cause and result. The slough in the upper picture
rises and lowers with the water table. At the time
this photo was taken in June, 1949, the water table
was near the surface; lest wells in the area con
firmed what the slough showed. The lower picture
shows a few remaining alfalfa plants on what is
described as having been a good field of alfalfa.
The high water table has caused nearly all of the
plants to die. This picture was taken on Pease Bot
tom near Hysham, Mont« in the Treasure county
soil conservation district.
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Two views taken June 30, 1949, at the Harvey Nas
lund place near Chinook. The wheat in the top
picture is on a field where the drainage system was
built in 1948. Previously during, the 10 years he had
lived on the farm, Naslund said, this land was so
seeped that it produced only a little grass—"it wasn't
even fair pasture." The banks of the main drain
can be seen in the background. The lower picture
shows the main drain, which is separated from
Naslund's land only by the width of the road.
Naslund is co-operating with the Paradise soil con
servation district.

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