Episode 2

Published on:

28th Feb 2023

Crop Diversification and Fertility with Perry Miller, Ph.D.

Dr. Perry Miller is a cropping systems scientist in the Land Resources and Environmental Sciences Dept at Montana State University. He specializes in crop diversification strategies and says a big chunk of that work includes working with pulse crops and how they can make other crops, namely wheat, grow better. In this episode, Miller discusses some of these crop diversification strategies, the benefits to including pulse crop rotations, some of the work they're doing on crop fertility and how much nitrogen benefit he’s seeing from peas and lentils. 

“So I can best speak from the Montana perspective, and I would say the evidence is very strong that our agriculture systems have become more diversified. Farmers have become more adventurous, more risk takers than they were in the past…So yeah, our systems have diversified pretty dramatically.” - Dr. Perry Miller

In Montana, Miller has seen sharp reductions in summer fallow in no small part because peas and lentils are a viable option. One of the benefits to diversifying a rotation by adding these crops is the potential nitrogen benefits. Miller emphasizes that the benefits are real, but they aren’t very predictable or as cut and dry as we might want them to be. 

“So what is that nitrogen benefit behind pulse crops? It's not super easy to predict, but it's real, it's common and it happens often…If you grow it once, it's hit and miss whether you're gonna get a nitrogen response behind it. The second time, especially the third time, there's been a pulse crop on that field, it seems like it's much more reliable in terms of that nitrogen response.” -Dr. Perry Miller

This Week on Growing Pulse Crops:

  • Meet Dr. Perry Miller, cropping systems scientist in the Land Resources and Environmental Sciences Dept at Montana State University
  • Explore the strategy behind crop diversity and the advantages producers can experience by planning their crop rotations with future inputs and soil health in mind while moving away from summer fallow practices
  • Understand the impact of no-till and water infiltration in combination with strategic crop diversity as a combined effort to improve yield, sustainability and productivity of the land

Growing Pulse Crops Podcast is hosted by Tim Hammerich of the Future of Agriculture Podcast.

Listen for free

Show artwork for Growing Pulse Crops

About the Podcast

Growing Pulse Crops
The science and business of farming field peas, chickpeas, and lentils
This show features the latest in research, agronomy, and economics of pulse crops (peas, chickpeas, lentils, etc.).

Demand for these nutrient-dense, high-protein foods continues to grow. There is also interest from farmers to include more pulses into diverse rotations for benefits like nitrogen fixation and soil health.

But the industry continues to face challenges, and we are eager to address these head on. So if you’re a pulse grower or in any way interested in these important crops, hit subscribe and stay tuned for future episodes. We’ll be back with plenty of information about challenges pulse farmers are facing throughout the U.S. and what solutions are working.

Brought to you by the Pulse Crops Working Group with support from the North Central IPM Center and USDA NIFA.

About your host

Profile picture for Tim Hammerich

Tim Hammerich

I share stories about agriculture, agtech, and agribusiness on podcasts and radio.