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Success Stories - No-Till, precision agriculture, dry land crop operation

Montana NRCS - Landowner Success Story

Carl and Janice Mattson, no-till wheat field in the background.Name: George Mattson Farms, Inc.
Location: 14 miles north of Chester, Montana
Operation: No-Till, precision agriculture, dry land crop operation
PAS: Robert Moler (406) 587-6842, robert.moler@mt.usda.gov

Carl and Janice Mattson shine as exemplary conservationists in Montana. Their passion for conservation is evident in their holistic approach to farming.

Carl and Janice Mattson run a primarily no-till wheat and durum operation covering several thousand acres. They began implementing a no-till system on their farm in 1993. In Carl Mattson's view, the value of improving the organic matter is difficult to put a price tag on. Once you have seen the changes in the soil, you become convinced it is the right practice.

The Mattsons are experts at precision agriculture. On this farm, precision agriculture began long before we heard about GPS or yield monitors. As operators, we could sense variables across a field, whether it was yield changes or the tractor pulling harder due to a soil type change, said Carl Mattson. Now the Mattsons use technology to detect field variables, collect yield, protein, and soil data, and map weeds on their property. With this information, they can make informed decisions about inputs needed to optimize wheat production and accurately apply fertilizer and herbicides.

The Mattsons cooperation with NRCS has been a major strength of their farming operation. In 2005, Carl Mattson was among Montana's first CSP conservation partners. In late May 2002, when the U.S. Drought Monitor gave north central Montana a D4 exceptional drought rating, Carl and Janice were a part of the group who signed up for expedited EQIP assistance. The incentive offered by EQIP was enough for farmers to give it a try, Janice said. It kept people from going into their fields with their equipment and causing more erosion. He had never seen a government program come into Liberty County and do as much good in one year as this program did, Carl said. It made a huge difference; you could really see the results quickly.

Carl and Janice Mattson's commitment to conservation extend beyond their farm through their participation with other organizations. Carl Mattson provides input on farm policy and conservation issues as a farm program associate and marketing coordinator with the Montana Grain Growers Association. He works with the Montana Stock Growers Association to provide input on agricultural policy and works with the Tax and Finance Committee. Carl Mattson has, or continues to work with the Manitoba-North Dakota Zero Tillage Farmers Association, Montana Farmer's Union, the Farm Bureau, the Precision Agricultural Research Association, the Upper Midwest Aerospace Consortium, and the Association of Agricultural Production Executives.

Carl and Janice are progressive farmers. They feel very strongly about keeping themselves and others informed on agricultural issues pivotal to their operations. Efficiency, profitability and innovation are the crux of their family farm's mission and vision statement. They were selected as Cooperators of the Year in 2002 by the Liberty County Conservation District.