Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Farmer Profile - Mark Richter

     This month, we are happy to introduce you to Mark Richter of Endicott, Washington, located in the Palouse Country of Eastern Washington state.  We have worked with Mark since 1993; in that time, we have seen him become very progressive and conservation minded in his farming practices. Mark and his combine are featured in the header photo of our blog!

Farmer Mark Richter and his wife, Kathleen
Your name, family names and interests: 
     Mark and Kathleen Richter.  We have two daughters, Kayla and Claire, and a son, Colson.  Kayla is married to Eli, and they have a baby boy, Gavin.

Your farm name, and location:
     We are a family operation, and the name is R& R Farms, Endicott, WA

How long have you been farming?  
     I have farmed for 34 years.  I came back to the farm in 1979 after college

Why did you become a farmer? 
     I loved being out on the land and being my own boss.
What crops do you grow?
 We grow Soft White Winter Wheat, Hard Red Winter Wheat, Hard Red Spring Wheat, Soft White Club Wheat,  Peas, Lentils and Garbanzos

Mark Richter's farm from the air

What type of farm do you have?
      Our region is all dryland, meaning we don't irrigate.  We are a Direct-Seeded producer.  This means we don't plow, disc or cultivate the soil, but plant directly into last year's stubble.  We don't raise any livestock.

Tell us about your operation. 
     We are an all grain and legume farm. We are in the Palouse country, which in the southeast portion of Washington State.

Do you use any sustainable practices?   Please tell about them.
     We have been direct seeding 100% of our operations continuously since 1997.  In the Palouse our terrain is very hilly, we can get to over 50% slopes which creates unique challenges for equipment and operator. 

     Within that challenge we receive most of our precipitation in the winter, which has very erosive affects when the land is not properly cared for. The traditional practice of summer fallow using tillage to combat the weeds would give us water erosion of more that 200 tons per acre*. That practice is not sustainable, which is why we went to direct seeding.  Direct seeding is also known as no-till. That is where the crop is planted into the previous years stubble with one or two passes across the field, to fertilize and plant the crop. We have eliminated erosion on our farm and we are trying to be the best stewards of the land that we have been blessed with.

Something interesting, cutting-edge, fascinating, you would like readers to know?
     We have been using GPS for guidance and automatic boom shutoff for the last 10 plus years. It has been a real money saver and also good for the environment. It shuts off valves that apply fertilizers so that they are not being over-applied.

During last summer's wheat harvest
What are the biggest challenges you face as a farmer?   
     The biggest thing we deal with are regulations and red tape from special interest groups. We are the only industry that produce goods that sell for wholesale and we pay the freight both ways.

What are farming’s biggest rewards for you? 
     I wake each morning to a new day that has a new set of rewards and challenges. I appreciate the beauty of each and every sunrise and sunset, and the ability to be in God’s creation.

Do you participate in any civic or industry organizations?   
     Yes, I’m a member of the Washington Farm Bureau, Washington Association of Wheat Growers and the Pacific Northwest Direct Seed Association (PNDSA). I served as the President of the PNDSA which is a three-state organization that encourages farmers and industry to wise stewardship of our resources. Website:

*Water erosion of more than 200 Tons per acre means that the rain and/or frozen soil conditions have allowed the loss of 400,000 lbs. of soil to be moved from its original place.  This could be down to a lower draw where it flattens out, or further down stream into our creeks, rivers, lakes and/or reservoirs.


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