Forage-Based Agriculture On The Sloping, Highly Erodible Terrain In Northern Idaho: Implications For Rural Development
Award last edited on: 2/28/02

Sponsored Program
Awarding Agency
Total Award Amount
Award Phase
Solicitation Topic Code

Principal Investigator
Russel Stromberg

Company Information

G&G Hay/Black Ram Engineering

Rte 1 Box 83A
Princeton, ID 83857
Location: Single
Congr. District: 01
County: Latah

Phase I

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Agriculture and forestry are the primary economic engines of northern Idaho. Both industries are struggling. Agricultural revenues have been stagnant for almost 5 years, agricultural support and service industries have virtually disappeared from rural communities, and farmers have recently lost a major share of regional markets for barley and oats to Canadian products which benefit from transportation subsides. Planned reductions in local timber production are expected to result in job losses as high as 50% over the next five years. Forage-based agriculture offers excellent potential as an alternative enterprise to address both the economic and ecological challenges facing the area. Several areas in the northwest have revitalized their economies by diversifying to forage products. The area is well suited for the production of perennial grass hays and the recent development of prototype mechanized bale harvesting equipment compatible with the steep, highly erodible terrain in northern Idaho offers the foundation technology to support a rural development program to transition or diversify from cereal based cropping. Recently over 2000 tons of local forage products much of which was harvested by this prototype equipment. was sold for export. The proposed research will make a comprehensive evaluation of the agronomic, equipment, economic, marketing and sociological issues associated with the feasibility of forage based agriculture as an alternative enterprise for rural development in northern Idaho.Applications:Expected commercialization alternatives are based on the experience of other communities in the northwest which have diversified to forage products. Each community has built a substantial business infrastructure around the forage industry. These include the design. development and manufacturing of equipment. packaging of products for international markets, product brokerage, custom harvesting and transportation. and other related industries.

Phase II

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Start Date: 00/00/00    Completed: 00/00/00
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Agriculture and forestry are the primary economic engines for the rural areas of central and northern idaho. Both of these industries have been in decline for the last decade and rural communities and farmers in the area are facing ever increasing economic challenges. The decline of these industries is undermining the economic, sociological and cultural foundation of central and northern idaho. Northern and central idaho farmers have struggled to achieve profitability for years. The agricultural lands of northern and central idaho are primarily comprised of shallow, cut over forest soils on highly sloping land. These lands include virtually all of the idaho panhandle from moscow to the canadian border. Cereal cropping is predominant but yields are marginal. The median total farm household of central idaho farms located on cutover forest lands is less than $50,000. Phase i research clearly demonstrated that perennial grass forages have excellent potential to support a successful, comprehensive community development program and that the feasibility of implementing such a program is excellent. Phase i research showed that: 1) grass forages offer clear and distinct economic benefits over cereal cropping; 2) market research showed that demand for quality grass forages far outstrips supply; 3) it is feasible to produce perennial grass forages with the yield and quality needed to support the development of a successful commercial forage industry. Phase II research will focus on an integrated comprehensive approach to the economic, agronomic, marketing, equipment and social issues which must be addressed to successfully implement a community development program based on grass forages in central idaho.Applications:Phase I research showed that central idaho can produce grass forage products which are competitive in regional and export markets. Commercial grass forage cropping has the potential to serve as an economic engine in a manner similar to other grass forage area in central washington, the columbia river basin and west-central oregon. These areas have developed vibrant economies using commercial grass forage cropping as an alternative agricultural enterprise.