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The Louis B. Salsbery homestead in Phillips County is well sheltered by trees
and by lush hay lands (foreground) ready for first cutting. (SCS photos)
Swapping Cropland for Grass
Is Proving a Good Deal
By HARRIS A. WILTZEN, WUC
Soil Conservation Service
LOUIS B. SALSBERY of Whitewater
is swapping cropland for grass and bet
ting he'll come out well ahead.
Three years ago he had more prob
lems than a man had a right to. He
sorely needed more tame pasture.
Then, raising annual hay crops by late
seeding spring flood areas wasn't work
ing out. Often he lost the crops and
had to buy hay at a high price,
Salsbery had gully trouble, too,
where occasional heavy runoff coursed
across the tilled fields.
Grass had been Salsbery's main crop.
He knew its value in the control of
erosion. He had suspected that, weigh
ing income against cost, grass might
do better than grain.
Great Plains Program
The new Great Plains Conservation
Program made it possible for Salsbery
to make the change faster than he
otherwise might have done. With the
help of a Soil Conservation Service
technician, Harris A. Wiltzen of Malta,
Salsbery worked out a complete soil
and water conservation plan. That was
in 1959, soon after Phillips County won
designation in the new program.
Salsbery's plan called for the seed
ing of 78 acres of the cropland to per
manent hay and pasture. He says that
will take care of the erosion. Too, it
will mean grass for grazing when Sals
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A reservoir provides irrigation for hayland as well as water for stock.
bery's cattle need it most. Salsbery
will be able to trim hay costs to a
realistic minimum. He can dispense
with some of his more expensive
The plan also includes water develop
ments to permit uniform use of all
grazing lands. There will be cross
fencing, too, for better management of
the grass resources.
Salsbery has been careful for many
years to practice conservation in use of
his grass. He sees that the cattle do
not take more than half the forage pro
duced each season on his native range.
When Salsbery finishes work on
his plan next year, he is certain his
ranching operation will have been
We are supposed to get 12 inches
of rainfall a year here, but none of us
can remember when we got that much,
Salsbery said. "Usually we don't get
enough to wet a blotter, the way it
looks to us. Anyway, this is grass coun-
try; history has proved it. We are
better off with grass and hayland in
a livestock operation. This plan, when
I'm through getting it on my ranch,
will give me the best use of moisture
I can get. I'm increasing output, cut-
ting costs and taking out some of thç
risk. That's just good business, any
way you look at it.
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Holding a 4-foot leveling rod, Louis Salsbery stands in one of his range
which has a good growth of green needlegrass and western wheatgrass.
Winter Wheat Does
Well in Richland Co.
By LYLE LARSON
WINTER WHEAT IS relatively new
here in eastern Montana. We started
five or six years ago with about 80
acres. The first year was a good one
with yields over 40 bushel per acre.
We have gradually increased the acre
age until now we have all our allot
ment planted to winter wheat. We be
lieve winter wheat to be a good risk,
even though here it does winter-kill
The winter wheat stand was rather
spotted and thin in certain areas last
spring. Some farmers destroyed the
partial stand and reseeded to spring
wheat, harvesting practically nothing.
They say a half stand of winter wheat
is better than a good stand of spring
wheat. I am convinced that this saying
In 1961, in spite of the drought
and heat, our winter wheat yield
15 bushels or better and weighed good,
while the spring wheat yield was about
7 bushels and weighed 54 pounds.
I think we can give credit for the
better yields on a year like last largely
to better farming methods. Stubble
mulch tillage gives
from wind, sun and run-off, which all
help to conserve moisture. Even after
the winter wheat is planted, there is
enough stubble standing to hold
for moisture and protection,
helps for better winter survival and
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alfalfa Is Irrigated from the reservoir.
This field of smooth brome
Buffalo Can Rustle
But Hard on Fence
By BRYAN MELTON
THE ONLY CREDIT I take for suc
cess in raising buffalo is in providing
a good place for them—as the school
books say, a suitable habitat.
You want a high range where cattle
won't go. The buffalo will go up there
and when the temperature gets down
to 30 below, you can just put another
log on the fire and get ready to go
out and feed their weaker cousins, the
cattle. Take the field glasses and you
can see the buffalo rooting out a living
in two feet of snow and asking nothing
of anyone. The only thing they want
is to be left alone.
A ranch where cattle can graze any
where may be suitable for raising buf
falo but not profitable. Many people
want to eat the meat, but when you
ask more than beef prices they throw
There are a lot of headaches, too,
in keeping them fenced in. When the
snow drifts over the fences, over they
go. And after getting through or over
your fence, which has to be a lot better
than a fence for cows, they are off.
Then, when you go after them, they
head straight for the home range and
take every fence in their way if you
crowd them. They don't just crash
through, they jump. And after 50 or
more have gone over and get to drag
ging their feet, the fence is what you
I have been a failure in one part of
the game—the main part. That is the
salesmanship. The only person I could
talk into buying a buffalo was some
one who has eaten some or a hunter
who wanted a trophy.
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