On Farm Trials ft. Tracy Eriksen

In this episode we hear a career retrospective from Tracy Erikson outside of St. John, WA, and how his lifetime pursuit of learning has evolved innovation and trials on the farm along with his impact on the landscape over decades. He describes starting the fabrication of his first no-till drill up to current interests and trials looking under the microscope for signs of soil health, spray water quality, and opportunities in drone technology on the farm.

Carol McFarland

Today, we’re excited to be out here with Mr. Tracy Eriksen on Lenskof incorporated, his farm outside of Saint John, Washington. Thank you so much for being on the podcast and welcome. 

Tracy Eriksen

Thank you, Carol.  Enjoyed having you out here. 

Carol McFarland

Thanks so much, Tracy.  Would you start off by telling us a little bit more about yourself, your farm, who you farm with? 

Tracy Eriksen

How far you want to go back on in history. But my grandfather came here, in 1987 and actually came to this place where we’re residing right now in 1907. And, my father was raised in this house. 

I was raised about a mile down the road. And then ever since my married life, I’ve been in what would be my grandfather’s house here. So we have moved about a mile or a mile and a half in, I have him 84 years ago or 83 years.

So, anyhow, we haven’t moved very far. My grandfather did homestead a place, but that was about seven miles away, and he sold that to his brother in 1907 when he came up here and settled here, married my grandmother, who lived a mile behind and, and the rest of its history there. So…  

Carol McFarland

It does sound like history.

You’re definitely part of a legacy of this landscape and your family and the whole area. 

Tracy Eriksen

Yes. You know, there’s a lot of stories like that around here, and we’re just one of them. 

Carol McFarland

That’s one of the wonderful things about being in this part of this world. You want to talk a bit more about who you’re farming with these days, or are you still farming?

I hear you’re trying to retire. 

Tracy Eriksen

Well, I thought I ended up sending what books I used to take in last November to my older son who is back with us now. He’s been with us for 3 or 4 years. I’ve had one son, Kai. He’s been with me since 1994. After he graduated from, University of Idaho. Actually, and been with me ever since that time. And, has been with me most of our no tilling years. I’d say our first no-till  probably started about ‘85. We were. I’ve been looking at this since ‘74, but it took about ‘85 before we started.

Devin’s with me now. It’s been a long, slow process of evolution, of getting out of the conventional.

I spent 20 some years in an open cab tractor tilling the ground, and I spent another 20 or so years still tilling. This is about 70 years now, and I’ve affected- I’ve actually affected this ground the same amount of time as most of my predecessors, my grandfather and my father, both when they added up what they were doing on here. I’ve been here about the same length of time, so I probably have had more influence on either the destruction side and trying to improve it than anybody else that’s been on this piece of property.

But it’s been an evolution, been slow. Wished it could have been hurried, but that’s the way it is. 

Carol McFarland

Yeah. And I think ag time is a little different than some other timelines, isn’t it? 

Tracy Eriksen

Yeah. My father was always pretty progressive, at that time. But, for that time. But later he got away from the plowing very early.

I really never did run a plow. I have, but it was never one of those things that I…we did deal in and deal out. We were mostly disking and chiseling. By the time I kind of got involved, which was, in our estimation at that time was an improvement. Looking back, I’m not too sure it really was from a soil health aspect of it,.

Carol McFarland

I appreciate you sharing that and the perspective of just how much, you know, you have influenced the land in your management choices. And I’m looking forward to hearing more about that and all the things you’ve tried along the way.

You’re talking about tilling and, you know, out here in the Saint John area, you got some good, good Palouse Hills. You want to talk a little bit more about the landscape that you farm, your precip and your soil?

Tracy Eriksen

We farm in, in the Saint John area, we’re in about a 15 inch rainfall area plus or minus, in 1976, we took over some of my, my wife’s family ground at Thornton. That’s about an 18 inch rainfall area. 

We have kind of divided our fields up, so we got about 14 different fields, and there is not one of them with a consistent soil. The least is 4 soils, and the most is 10 soils of varying productivity on them. So, we’re on the hills or I use, we use to farm 40 plus percent hills.

Most of that has been grass out now. So there’s very little that we farm. That’s over 30, 35%. there’s less than 10% that I would call level, which I would say is anything under 5%. So it’s we’re on the western edge of the Palouse Hills, so quite close to the scab land. So, yeah, we have in light soil most of those fertilize soils, so they run.

If they are over cultivated, they run down the hill. And that was really probably the thing that really kind of set me on the this road is in 1975, I was too lazy to get off of a tractor and get a piece of post that was in the road or in my in my track, and I watched that post go from the hilltop, the hill bottom in one season, just from my cultivation, and it would just move a little bit every time I did a pass.

And I said, and then, watch the soil flow down the road in front of my weeder. And I said,  my kids are never going to be able to farm this ground. There won’t be anything left if I keep eroding it the way it’s going here.

So from about that point on, then I started working at ways to stop that. It was a slow process. 

Carol McFarland

It sounds like you have some years of observational data points as you’re thinking, as that got your wheels turning toward shifting your management choices. So do you want to talk a little bit more about, what was your standard rotation or what kind of has historically been your standard rotation?

And then how that changed over time? 

Tracy Eriksen

Our whole region here started out when my grandfather was on this and then, early years and my father, we raised turkey red wheat.

That was hard red wheat. That was standard. My father, he told me, he said I raised turkey red until they wouldn’t take it anymore at the elevator. 

So, that was when we changed over. And when- my early farming days, basically, it was all club wheat. The whole region was club wheat. And, in 1960, we had stem rust, I believe it was that came in or leaf rust and took out all the whole countryside.

Fortunately, gains had just become- it was a common wheat and gain. It just just hit the market. And, that’s probably the first real flip that I ever saw people do wholesale. It went from club wheat to gains wheat in basically a one year time. Because it just the rust just devastated our, our, club wheat.

So we have been in the common wheat, common south white wheat since that point. We have done some DNS, for wheat, but, at barley, we used to put barley into the rotation.

Most of my father’s career was a three year rotation. We had winter wheat, then you had spring barley, and then you had fallow. We’ve broken that rotation up as the years have gone. So it’s, there’s no real standard rotation out there. But we call it mostly a three year. When Kai got more involved, here, we immediately wanted to go up to a like a six year rotation.

Economics told us that that really wasn’t going to work out very well. Well, as much as we’d like to do that, that just didn’t work. So we’re back to the three years, for the most part, or the four years, depending on where we are.

Carol McFarland

I’m actually curious about what types of things you tried growing as part of your rotations.

Tracy Eriksen

Prior to 1985, when the farm bill came and they released us from our bases, up to that point, you were locked into braces, into bases, and we had to raise wheat, and we had to raise right up the maximum, what the base allowed us, or we would lose that. So, the government really made this wheat farmers. Those up east of us, they were complaining at that time because they were in a pea, wheat, barley rotation. 

Well, the wheat base for them got knocked back because they had other crops. Most of us down here in the fallow area, it was half wheat at that time, early in the 60s when that program came about. And, so we had a wheat fallow and knowing how there would be some barley, we had a low barley base, but we protected that because that’s what the program payments and everything. That was where we were in terms of rotation early on, is wheat-fallow for us. When 85 came and they separated the bases on that somewhat, then we started to be able to do some other stuff. I went in and started raising some spring peas, yellows. and we had more spring barley, and wheat, but that was about as far as it went. ‘76 we went up to Thorton and started on that, but we were really annual cropping up there with winter wheat and spring wheat for many years.

And then we got into some peas to replace the spring wheat and some barley. Well, I did raise winter barley for a year or two, but the winter barley just didn’t quite fit the program. As years transpired, we were able to do a little bit more.

And then in 1994, we went back to Pierre, South Dakota to Duane Beck’s place. Kai and I went in the Spring of ‘95, actually. And, we got to see what they were doing, and we started coming back then and starting increasing. Then we started, trying to incorporate it a little later and, yeah, some mustards and more recently canola, and, we’ve had some garbs, on here.

We’ve had, some, well, garlic. Well, last year we raised soybeans.

Carol McFarland

Did you?

Tracy Eriksen

Well, we say we raised them. 

Carol McFarland

All right. Tell me how that went. 

Tracy Eriksen

Well, yes, that we got enough seed back that we’re going to plant another year, but, I think we, you know, they didn’t do well for that last, but we’re not giving it up yet. But, we’re going to go one more year. From what I hear, we’re going one more year. So we got a little acreage, you know, it’s kind of…see, that was a bad year last year to do soybeans on dry land. We were going to put some on irrigated this year. We have a little bit of irrigated property and, but, with the discussion recently, as you know, we’ve gone beyond on most of that ground, I don’t think we can, put soybeans on that.

We know beyond is not going to work well at all, even if it’s two years out. So, I think that has yet to be determined where we’re going to put it, but we will probably try some again, but it’s likely to be one of those two times and out, not three times or four times, but we’ll see.

Carol McFarland

Well, I’m curious about that. I mean, you are kind of a legendary innovator, as it goes. And when you are trying something, How do you decide whether it’s you try it once and, like, this isn’t really showing any promise versus carrying out for two years or three or four. How do you make some of those decisions on whether it’s worth it? And how to try it? 

Tracy Eriksen

All it’s, it’s mostly, a gut feeling. Yeah. In our case, we have, we have an individual who wants to put soybeans into the area, bring them in here. He thinks he has some varieties that might grow in here because this is not a soybean area, and, I’m not sure it’ll ever be, but, we said, okay, we’ll try it a little bit. We raised soybeans I don’t know seven, eight, nine years ago, on a little thirty acre plot.

And, they really look good. And this was before the new varieties. They make a lot of changes in soybeans, variety wise, to try to get them the shorter season and get them in different locations. The soybeans that we had started looked really good. We had them under irrigation. We were going to try a little, they were Roundup Ready soybeans.

When it was time to give them a chemical job, we had a custom operation come in. They had them contaminated, apparently, because they never grew after that. We got paid very well by the company. They tried their best to figure out what happened. So I did do it, but got absolutely no data off of that. McGregor came in and asked whether we could raise soybeans. She was a soybean breeder and she says, this is really not the area. Not enough humidity, not enough heat, blah, blah, blah. So I, my interest went really down to nothing until, another fella came in and said, I think we got some soy beans. Maybe it will work up here. So we said, okay, we’ll give it a few acres. You want a 200 acre? I said, no way. We’ll do roughly thirty

Carol McFarland

So this was your second round of soybeans?

Tracy Eriksen

This was the second round on soybeans. And, so we gave the fella, you know, a 30 acre field roughly. And it was 27, I think it was it turned out, when he brought the seed up to us and we planted it and it turned out to be a drought year and dry land.

And, I didn’t think we’d have anything growing. And, actually, they did..they did flower and they did some podding, but not really well. We did harvest them. I wasn’t sure whether it was even going to be worth it, but we did harvest, and we got three bags out of 30 acres. Three, totes. So we’re going to just turn that around and seed them back, or, we got to figure out how to, maybe scalp them and get some of the garbage out. The germination on them is really poor. It’s like 55%. When I did the germ, I got 90%, but I only took what I thought might germ.

Carol McFarland

So a bit of a biased sample.

Tracy Eriksen

There’s a lot of not good seed in there. It’s pretty obvious now. 

Carol McFarland

I know when we were talking with Garett Heineck and Garrett Moon out in the horse Heaven Hills on their Kernza, and they were talking about how they were exploring the downside potential of Kernza. And if it worked out, there would work, other places and for sure, and sounds like you did that with your soybean trial this last year was really explored that downside potential.

Tracy Eriksen

Quite frankly, we do not have a lot of hope for them yet.In the future, yeah, I think maybe there’s a potential, particularly if our climate keeps warming, which most likely it will. And the moisture we heard yesterday from the weatherman, yeah. Seem to be getting a little more moist, you know, then maybe, maybe it’ll come this way, but, Yeah, it’s interesting. It’s one of those things that you try and you- you hope for success. And the likelihood is probably not great when you give it a try.

Carol McFarland

One of the things I’m curious about, so, you know, you kind of keep your curiosity around the soybeans as a prospective alternative crop in your rotation.

What’s driving that for you? What sort of management goals are you hoping? Is it economics? Is it soil? What is it? 

Tracy Eriksen

Diversity. Yeah. crop diversity. It basically is, what? I’ve become, you know, my interest once I got into the soil health issue, as you know. So or. Well, even before that, when I was more interested in listening to Beck, crop diversity was always his thing. The more diversity, the better.

So I was one of those, you know what? We’re pretty limited. We were wheat and barley and, you know, there was some peas in that here, but we needed more diversity. So we look at those crops. That’s why we basically got into canola and mustards and things like that, and garbanzo beans. 

So just to get the diversity in there, the more current with the cover crops now is basically to get diversity out there. As I learn more about the microbial biology in the soil, we, the critters need feeding. They need different foods, different critters. So, you know, it’s all about the diversity.

Carol McFarland


Do you want to talk a little bit more about your soil health journey? I know you’re even thinking about that a lot. 

Tracy Eriksen

The, used to be soil health. To me it was just to stop the erosion, you know, get no till and that’ll do it all and blah, blah. Well, that didn’t quite work. Yes, we stopped the erosion, but still, we were taking material off the ground. We really started seeing that we weren’t putting anything back on there, even though we left everything in place.

So the journey kind of started as to get rid of the erosion. We went from cultivation to, less cultivation and combining of, our operations out there. I spent all winter for many years putting equipment together, combining like putting a harrow on a cultivator and, and and doing that in one operation and adding chemistry to it and and that and operation finally, we got to the point that no tilling looked like it was a potential. This was in 85.

And then I started renting some drills to do the winter wheat. And then we started doing a few in the spring. In ‘92 I thought I really knew how to do no tilling. And I bought a no-till drill. And then we spent another 20 years trying to figure out how no-till works. 

Carol McFarland

Okay, you gotta tell me, what was that tell me about those early drills and then how that’s evolved over time?

Tracy Eriksen

We bought an AgPro, very narrow hole. It put the fertilizer in with our seed and that, that was 92. And then, we modified that. It was, you know, not too bad for disturbed, disturbance, but it disturbed quite a bit of soil. Then I modified that to an active plant, double disk that had notched blades on it.

We still kept our fertilizer there with it. That would turn out to be a problem. We kept that a few years, but it was a problem for us hairpinning. During that period, I put in some high pressure fertilizer to try to get rid of the shank. that didn’t really work out that well, and I couldn’t get it in the ground deep enough.

But the aqua always smelled bad. And if you’re in a draw and you had to stop, that could have been a problem. So after a couple of years, I got rid of that. And then we went back to a hoe drill with a four inch and spread out because we were starting to build residue that it was getting to be a problem.

Residue has been a problem for me for forty, fifty years. It’s how do you, you know, how do you work with that without destroying it? So, we went to spread out our machine, and we put a hoe drill back with a four inch plate, and then we went to a six inch point, spread out a little more.

In 2000, by the time 2010 hit, the residue of our, our rotation at time was really built residue. Winter wheat residue. And, we just couldn’t handle it. We had, about 2010 was a really bad year for rodents in the field. Everybody had bad rodents. Mostly you could see that just around the grass edges.

And you’d always have stuff coming out around those with rodents eating off the weeds. Well, we had mounds all over the field from residues piled and dropped off the drill and that. So we had little condos for rodents all over the fields. So we had some big holes in our crop. They didn’t kill it. It came through, but it affected us.

But, we said that we can’t handle that anymore. We double mowed it. We’d done all of this, but that didn’t work, because all the tracks that you leave up with, every time you get a piece of equipment on the ground. 

With- at that time, we knew the cross slot looked like it might be a way to go. And then 2014, we built our own cross slot drill, and, in the years, my no tilling years from, let’s say, ‘85 on, it seemed to me like I spent more time under the drill than I did in the seat of the tractor.

And when I built that drill in ‘14 with the boys, we tried to design it so that we had much easier access to the drill. It was easier to work on it. It’s been a very successful drill.

Carol McFarland

So what is it? that makes it kind of the most successful drill that you’ve kind of optimized at this point?

Tracy Eriksen

Well, it’s easy to work on, still a lot of heavy equipment. But it’s easy to work on, it’s very versatile. We can seed on ten inch spaces. We can seed on 20 inch spaces.

We have very little disturbance with that drill. We disturb about, I think total disturbance is about, maybe an inch and a half is all,if it even gets any, but it cuts a lot, that we found, actually, that we can really bring, a crop up in, about double the depth of normal drills because it’ll come up in that slot and do its thing.

So that aspect is good. One of the downsides of that drill. Well, it’s an expensive drill to run because of the wear pieces that’s on it. But if it’s got an automatic downforce system on it that keeps the pressure where you want, so you can have your, keep an even seeding depth if that system isn’t working, it’s not a good drill.

And we have some issues with that on time. So, but, you know, and for the most part, we’ve kind of learned it. You stop and fix it, you don’t try to work through it, or you’re not going to have a good crop. So it’s got its good pieces, features. And it’s got some not good. That’s just typical of every drill out there.

Carol McFarland

WelI, and, I hear you’re talking about crop diversity. And one of the things that, you know, comes up with different drills, especially in different places around, this dry land region of the Inland Northwest, a lot of different seeding conditions people are working with. And especially when you talk about diversity being part of your management plan, the drill can be a big part of that.

So is that drill success as successful with canola as with peas or your cover crop mixes? 

Tracy Eriksen 

Yes. The cross slot  drill is very versatile. We would like to have, I think we’re finding out it would be better to have a planter for things like canola and just small seeded stuff, and probably even for other crops. Peas, maybe even even for wheat. I can see the potential for the boys to move to a planter, sometime down in the future. But right now, the cross slot is done. We can go through just about anything out there in terms of residue. I’d say our fight about  with residue has diminished, 80, 90%. Where we couldn’t do it. You know, there’s other, single disc drills out there that I think do a good job. And, they’re certainly much better in terms of, disturbance and, than a hoe drill of any type. The hoe drill we originally started with  is still a very viable drill.

They’re still selling that drill today, about 30 years later. They got a lot of different configurations, but they can- you can still buy that same type of operation. People do. They like it. 

Carol McFarland

So how does it go when you I guess I brought up the seeding of cover crops. I know that can be especially if you’re doing, do you prefer mixed species or do you- are you want a single cover crop?

Tracy Eriksen

Never considered anything but a mixed species. But, I see more reading in that, you know, there’s like, rye, which is a bad word around here, but that seems to be a very popular cover crop as a single species in the Midwest and in the East, but I’ve always considered multi species. I’ve gone up as high as nine or ten species, down to three or four. We have separated large seed again and small seed, because we have that capability of a drill with a cross slot. I think the tendency maybe is, we’re going to just continue mixing them together. We did for one or two years that we divided that out.

I’m not sure we see that as a real advantage. We have seeded some wheat into it. We’re still working on that. We were in a project where we were…We’re in a moving wheat early into the season, and we were part of the study that, then you started hearing things about wheat mosaic and High Plains disease and fusarium.

So, we had to back off of that. We’re still trying to figure out just how early you can see that wheat. At this point, it looks like the middle of August. Maybe is about as early as we want. We know that June is too early. We’re thinking that July is too early. We’ve had some stuff seeded in the third week of August, and I seemed to have no problem. 

Carol McFarland 

Okay, so when you’re trying to, experiment with your planting date, do you want to just speak a little bit more to, you know, if you’re trying something different? In that case what, what are you looking for? 

Tracy Eriksen

Mostly to get cover, get it up early. One of the things we’ve learned with the cross slot is, you, you know, it would took me a long time no-tilling to get it, because I, I grew up around WSU research. I’ve been to probably- I’be been to a lot of the research- the conservation and there were certain things you had to do. You I mean, you.

 couldn’t seed. You didn’t want to seed too early because you would get aphids or you would get some disease or, or whatever.

You had to wait for the chi grass to come up because of our rotation. So you had to wait for the rains to get the chi grass up. And by that time, we were really late in our seedlings, like October, early October. I was taking a yield hit in terms of of what the neighbors were doing at that time.

And, actually, Kai is the one that got us on the straight on that. I kept saying, well, we need to seed earlier, but we couldn’t do it because this, this and this. Finally, Kai, just went out and seeded early and our yield’s been great. So really, one of the things we have to do are we can visit our own mind, we have to do is you can’t let the moisture get away from you. If you’re going to have a dry fall and you’ve got moisture in, say late August, seed it. Don’t wait. 

If you’re trying to seed into a, a cover crop, you’re not going to have that moisture. Unless you got the early rain.

So you, you’re going to give that up. And we’re too early yet to have to know how much of a yield hit are we going to get. We know we’re going to get a potentially anywhere from 10 to 30 bushel yield hit, normally. Can we improve? My idea here is can we improve the soil health with our cover crops that we can get them to emerge a little later and still hold our yields. Not sure about that. Probably not. 

Carol McFarland

Do you want to talk a little bit more about some of your adventures and cover crops, like when did you first start those? And I know that you’re part of the PNW cover crop collaboration with the University of Idaho, and maybe some other projects. 

Tracy Eriksen

That’s true. We’re in two projects right now. Our first project, our first cover crop, went in 2017, and it was, some new ground we took on a shallow ground, rocky, very complex. And, you know, we had been in CRP for 25-30 years. It came out, we put a crop or two on, then we, we no-tilled it out, and then we went back with a cover crop and, it’s had two cover crops on, and now there was a 70 acre area that we know.

And it looked to me like one cover crop we haven’t been able to see, or even in our own wildest minds, envision that it’s been an improvement yield wise. The second one, we’re starting to think maybe, two cover crops out. Maybe we’re starting to see, because one of the areas, a very poor ground, yielded the best in 2022.

It was even better than 2020, which was actually everybody’s great year. 2022, depending on where you are, were good years. We had a great year as 2022. So, you know, we’re starting to see, and the boys are starting to see maybe these cover crops, you know, if we can get included here, we’ll have some value to us whether we’re still pretty early in that.

But we started in’15. That was our first one. The one that I really like we did in, in ‘16, we put 100 acres of a multi-mix with radish on our hills area. We had a big run off that year and I was out in the field watching that stuff go off in the spring. We had a Chinook.

It was- we didn’t have a lot of snow, but it went fast. Water was rolling everything. I was on our chem fallow winter wheat, which we had good cover on. The water was leaving quite clear. But it was still we were losing that. And all I could see by this time is yield going down the creek. 

You know? Then I went over and walked through or the area that we had our cover crop on, which included radish. We, I like radish, and there was no water movement at all on that ground. And we were there were slopes around 30% on some of that ground. So the more I looked at that, the better I liked it.

I said, yeah, we kept our moisture. it’s going in the ground. We’re not losing anything. If you’re if you’re losing water, you’re losing soil. You’re not. You can’t help it, moving water moves stuff. You got nutrients, you got pesticides, you got whatever is going down. Even though I took some jar samples and it looked pretty good, it was pretty obvious that we were losing stuff. 

Carol McFarland

You really touched on an interesting point there with erosion, you’re not just losing, you know, soil, as the base resource on the farm, but you’re also losing nutrients with that soil. It sticks to the soil particles. And that’s stuff you’ve spent money on as well. 

Tracy Eriksen

And there’s always a herbicide. You want to keep that in. So you know, we’re working on cover crops now to try to, you know, try to release some of the we got soil. So one of the problems I’ve had over the years, I’ve had thousands, tens of thousands of dollars on soil samples and for the most part, I haven’t done anything with them.

I mean, we take our soil samples before we put our fall crop in and they’ll ask you, oh, what do you put on? Well, we put on dot, dot, dot.  What did you do? Like the same thing. Same thing as before. A lot of times, we haven’t changed much for the most part on that because it all comes out about the same.

But we have some of the newer soil samples. I think it was out of Ward’s lab. We got, a total availability of nutrients. Actually it is telling us in the place that we were taking that sample. We have all of the necessary nutrients for a long time.

The plant just cannot access it. So that takes microbiology to do that. So we’re now kind of gearing ourselves to how to get those nutrients released in the soil. Not adding so much. We’re finding out that the more we add like nitrogen and that, probably not doing us so good where it’s locking up other nutrients. We’re doing more and more leaf testing, and comparing the old leaf to the new leaf. And we need to get into probably more foliar. So we’re moving that direction.

Carol McFarland

Well, and this is a question I’ve asked around generally, but as you think about nutrient availability, microbes and all of this, on your farm, what is what does it look like in all of that?

Tracy Eriksen

Our pH is around five. It runs for around 5.5 to 6.1 depending on where you are. I’d like to have it higher on liming. 

We are trying to do less of the pH lowering fertilizer. My goal is, I think the, the boys are sort of following along on this is eventually we don’t really put anything down with the seed. We do it all foliar or we put very little on the seed, and then we do it foliar. If we can figure out how to do it without killing the plant and do it frequently, I think we can do that well in the future.

Carol McFarland

So when you’re talking about nutrient availability in the soil, I think about pH. But I mean, the closer you are to neutral, of course.

Tracy Eriksen

The better.

Carol McFarland

I noticed you’ve got a microscope over there in the corner of your office. 

Tracy Eriksen

Well, and, I learned about Doctor Elaine Ingham in 2016. Actually, I was able to get that through one of the wheat colleges.

She was a speaker over in Ritzville, and after listening to her presentation, I got in touch with her. And then I joined and and took two of her classes. One was just basically a biological identification class and then it was all online. So I could identify, you know, nematodes and amoebas and flagellates and bacterium and fungi.

I can identify them now and see that. And that was in preparation to start developing some teas and some extracts. And, you know, that’s a whole other story.

But anyhow, yes, that was just part of my education there to learn.

I was asked by an individual, he said, if you get done with that, he says, I’d be willing to buy it, it stays on the ranch as long as I’m here.

Carol McFarland

I mean, I hear that as part of your soil health journey. You’re really embracing that soil as a vital living ecosystem and not a substrate.

Tracy Eriksen

It is a living. We don’t recognize it. And I never recognize it. I still don’t recognize it. But it is just amazing when you put that stuff under that slide, just what’s there, what’s wiggling around in that. It’s a whole different perspective of life.

Carol McFarland 

We just had the Washington Soil Health Initiative just did the SoilCon for 2024 recently. And there was a great talk on soil biodiversity in that as well. So I know the recordings will be available.

Tracy Eriksen

We’re looking forward to that.

Carol McFarland

Yeah, if you’re interested in that, if you didn’t catch it live, it was fun. It was a good rundown of all the different critters in the soil. It sounds like you already know them and you’ve got the microscope to ID them.

Tracy Eriksen

There was a time I thought all nematodes were bad, that was a revelation to me to find out, no, nematodes are a main critter to do some conversions for us. You don’t want the plant eaters.

Carol McFarland

Hopefully, by the time this comes out, I’m trying to rope someone in for talking about nematodes on the Soil Health Coffee Hour. So hopefully, by the time this goes live, we’ll have gotten that one in too. Now, I can vouch for how many research and WSU sponsored events that you’ve been to, including on soil health and other conservation districts.How do you see that interaction between the research and how it applies and inspires your on-farm trials?

Tracy Eriksen

Well, the university research is getting much better. Earlier on, a lot of the use or the reason for the biological groups that have been going on is that we were not getting the research out of the colleges that we needed to do what some of us were seeing that needed to be done. But we’ve also, I’ve noticed over the last three, four years particularly, a big jump in interest. Maybe it’s been more than three or four years, well, since ‘sixteen anyhow. But there’s a big interest coming up and we’re getting more, I think, good research out of that.

And so everybody’s kind of catching up on board. I think there’s a lot of dis-coordination yet in the university of the different specialists talking to one another and looking for alternatives to some of our chemistry that we’re having.

We’re going to have issues there. I think it can be done not through synthetic chemistry, put it that way. 

Carol McFarland

Just in some of our other conversations and rumor has it a little bit too, that you’ve been thinking about ways to reduce your synthetic chemistry on your place. How has that been looking for you?

Tracy Eriksen

Well, right now it looks very good.

We basically cut our chemistry needs in half and we did that in one year. And part of our biological group, it was in 2020 the subject of structured water came into play. It’s a Pursanova system with Vatche, I can’t pronounce his last name at all.

The Spokane Conservation District put out or developed or put together a personal system, put it out to a farmer to get some real experience on this stuff. Turned out there was a lot of problems that developed. So they had to do some rebuilding and a new learning curve.

And then it was by the summer of 2021, that system was all put together and the issues seem to be understood and mitigated. We were able to get it in August and then we started producing that water. I was doing some tests and studies on it and we started cutting back that fall on some of our chemistry. 

It  looked really good. Primarily cut back a lot on the roundup. So come the winter, well, this system was doing really well and we were talking it up within the group and we’re going to have to have, we’re going to need so many gallons and everybody else in the 150 mile radius is going to need this thing. We’re going to have problems of getting it timely to get the product that we have. And it doesn’t store itself that well.

The structured water from the time you quit doing the circulation, the new idea on it is it will gradually start to decrease and by two weeks it’s down some more and maybe a couple of months it’s down. Anyhow, it was going to be close to a $50,000 bill. And I said, okay, let’s bite and let’s go for it.

And we figured it out, we penciled it out, if we can just cut that half, we’ll have that paid off quick. And we did. We just arbitrarily just chopped everything in half. And our response was very good.

We paid for that unit in about six months just in what we normally had done the year before against what we were doing.

We continue, we aren’t cutting any more for the most part. But this Pursanova system really wasn’t built for the purpose of getting rid of the chemistry it was supposed to be for fertilizing, getting your plant foliar feeding. And we haven’t even touched that yet. We’re doing it. That’s kind of our next phase on that. We’re satisfied with the system. And that’s where we are on that.

Carol McFarland

When you’re trying something like that, I guess, I hear you talking a little bit like, it sounds maybe like you kind of went all in on that one rather than, with your soybeans, you’re like, oh, hey, we did thirty acres. But with this, I mean, how did trying the water look different in terms of an on farm trial?

Tracy Eriksen

As I mentioned, we started this about 2020 in the group and that group assessment went on. And then I went and I started talking, I started calling around in the East Coast and peoples because this is not a new system. 

This has been out roughly 15 or 20 years by the time I got to it. And so I started talking to a few people on the East Coast that had it and they were very satisfied with it. There was a couple of big growers of specialty crops that really weren’t willing to share anything.

It’s a marketing thing that they do. Vatche was putting a lot of money into them. And but it was all this behind the wall thing. So we didn’t get anything on that.  

I figured at this point, that if we bombed one year, that wasn’t going to be bad. So that was really kind of the decision we made. We figured that we could cut our costs one year, which would pay for that thing. 

But no, it worked. We’re satisfied. We got to watch it. You know, it makes the weed scientists at the universities. They don’t like it. And it’s understandable. And I understand their position and all. And we have to be very careful and not let anything get away because we’re cutting those rates down. We’re at the very bottom of the labels. So yeah, we got to watch for misses 

Carol McFarland

Well, it sounds like with your crop rotations, one of the benefits of diversifying is diversifying your chemistry portfolio, so that probably helps as well.

Tracy Eriksen

Yeah, we and we pay attention to that. We try to stay out of the long persistent stuff. You know, a field that we bought recently has got goat grass on it. That’s what brought beyond into our life, you know, we want to get around that and out of that as quick as possible.

How long that’s going to take the boys to do? I don’t know. It’s beyond me now. It’s going to have to be them.

Carol McFarland 


Tracy Eriksen

But they’re aware. They know what the issues are. We’ll go from there.

Carol McFarland

Okay, we have a couple other questions here for you. Do you want to share a little bit about the most memorable time when you experienced unintended consequences from a trial? 

Tracy Eriksen

I really haven’t had any really bad unintended- I suppose actually our recent soybean or my history with soybean. I’ve gone really slow on most of the changes and I’ve either seen early with a small acreage. 

In all the things that I’ve done, the economics have never come into play. It’s just like a new crop. You got to learn to grow it before you even consider whether it’s going to make money or not. I want to see if it’ll grow. 

You know, I’m looking at soil health issues, biology, what it’ll do for that. If we can take small acreage, if we can make it grow and look good, then we start looking at the economics of it.

If somebody comes up with an idea, and said well, can you make money? Well, heck, I don’t know. We’ll see if we can do this and then we’ll see whether we can make it. You just don’t want to bet the farm on the whole thing. 

Now basically, I suppose you’d say the person over water system, I bet the farm on. So I mean, a $50,000 bill is a pretty good size bill.

But we had that pretty well figured out beforehand. We were prepared, our operation was prepared to make the cuts we needed to do what we needed. If it didn’t work, then we’d back out of it, but we could do that. And when all of the modifications I did for 20, 30 years, the equipment, the thing that I always looked at when I spent all winter making these modifications, part of that was how long was it going to take me to back out of that? How many days was it going to take me to reconvert my drill or my cultivating system back to where it was that I knew would work?

And I always planned that around a day’s change. If things didn’t work, I was going to lose a day, strip it all out of there and get it back. 

But I never went to the point that I just totally dismantled something. So I really never had any of those events where things were really a failure.

They were always manageable. 

Carol McFarland

Sounds like a lot of great innovation winning. No, but it sounds like you really are doing your homework and understanding your risk tolerance threshold, I think might be a word for some of that. 

When you’re trying stuff, where and how do you try things if you’re just doing that, trying something on a smaller scale? Do you like mark it out? Do you keep notes? You know, there’s just some like really basic kind of pro tips. What have you learned over the years? It’s a good system for some of those things. 

Tracy Eriksen

I know when talking around with people, a lot of people, you know, I’ll try this little thing on a back 40 or on a back 20 or somewhere, I was never that way. It’s always out on the road. Mostly I kept stuff in my head.

I know some people really take detailed notes on everything they do and how it works out. I really never did that. Everything is exposed. Everybody else can see it because I can see it too. 

And if it’s out in the back, well, I get busy on something where we’re not a big enough operation for many years. I was doing it myself. Then I got one of my boys and  Kai to come back and then there was two of us. But still seemed like we always had enough stuff. 

You just go from one thing to the other and you don’t have too much time to look over

your shoulder and see what happened over here. But if it’s out in front of you, you can kind of keep track of it.

And since 2012, I’ve had a blog and I used to keep it up really well. But in the last about three, four years, I’m not in the field like I used to be. And I find I’m not observing. I’m having trouble. I’m not sure how much longer I’ll even try to keep that blog going because I’m just not out there doing the observations that I was.

But we just kind of do it by the seat of the pants an awful lot of it. If it looks like it’s growing good, we’ll dig in the soil and we’ll look around and see what plant growth and give it some thought. So is it doing what we want?

Some of the soil tests now, I’ve always been critical of soil tests, but we’re getting better on those. We’re getting more different soil tests. the sap test, you know, as spoke of a little bit earlier. We’re getting really more involved on that. I think we’ll be able to tell better with that along with some of the other newer tests out there.

The Haney test has never really caught on with me too much. 

Carol McFarland

Yeah, no, there’s a lot of different thoughts around that test for sure.

Thanks for speaking a little bit to some of the things you look for to know if a trial is successful and really like what data looks like on the farm to you. 

And also that you’re one of the ones that puts it right out there in front so everybody can see it, including yourself.

Well, Tracy, one of the things I was encouraged to ask you, what are the three top three craziest things you’ve tried on your farm 

Tracy Eriksen

Well, I suppose really the Pursanova water system was probably the craziest.

And people ask me, well, how does that work? I don’t know.

The best way, I’ve done some reading on that kind of came from a suggestion by Gerald Pollock

from the University of Washington. He’s got several books, but one of them is Easy Water, which is the exclusionary zone water. 

So he’s got a book out on the fourth stage of water. I’ve seen a lot of his videos.They’re fascinating.  Water is not what we think water is. I mean, what we’ve envisioned, there’s a lot more to water than that.

I watched several of his videos as part of our study to kind of figure out what’s going on. But just recognizing that water isn’t just the water we think of. That it can be shaped a little bit, which makes it different in terms of what it can do and the energy it can store.

Five years ago, that was just crazy.

But so was the idea that plants actually can communicate with themselves.

Five years ago, six years ago, that was pretty off the wall. So when I first heard that from Elaine Ingham in 2016, I said, what are we talking about? This is crazy stuff. It’s not so crazy anymore now that we have a little more understanding of that.

And we know so little about our soil biology and what’s going on. There’s a lot of processes going on that we just don’t know how it’s done yet. That’s kind of the way it is with this water thing. 

Some of our savings from our chemistry is probably the fact that our suppliers and the people that we rely on for that information. They got a lot of pressure about it. But the tendency is the worst thing that a salesman can have is a sell a product that does not work.

So if you’ve got a chemistry guy giving you product, he wants to make sure that weed is

dead.We may have been putting on too much. That might be the reason that we can cut back some of that and not show any real problem.

But that would be the craziest thing that we had done. We banked a lot of money on it with some research that we thought we could get by with it and hoping it worked. And it did.

Carol McFarland

Well, I also hear that you’re, one, you’re very curious. I think it seems like you’re just kind of that lifelong learning is just a part of who you are. And it sounds like you also really do your homework and getting a lot of different sources of information on something before you bet the farm.  And that you’re also aware of potential risks.

I hear you saying, well, escapes are a possibility. We are watching for those as part of this as we try this innovation. And so, you said top three, Tracy. You have two more. 

Tracy Eriksen

I’m trying to think about three and that one has really stuck out because that  was a pretty big bite.

I would say probably the other one was just buying our first no-till drill.

I really thought I had done enough and had watched and seen enough stuff that was going

to be successful. And to a point it was, but that was a pretty high risk and it didn’t go well. It didn’t go as well as I was expecting it to.

I took a couple of trips back to Beck talking to, learning more what it is. 

My second trip, I went back and I said, well, I’ve applied your five points to make successful no-tilling. I said, I’m having trouble with that.  And he just sort of grinned at me.

He says, well, I learned my, he said, I gained my PhD developing those five basics of successful

No-tilling. He says, you’re going to have to earn your PhD to make those criteria fit your environment.

And I said, yeah, okay.

His environment is different than ours.The principles are the same, but you got to make the applications differently or you have to consider different things in making those applications. In our case, successful no-tilling for the most part, besides your wage control and the timeliness of is to, it’s all based around timeliness and meeting your moisture requirements.

If everybody’s seeding in the dry, no-tilling and conventional is going to be a little different. But if we can reach moisture and we can get it in, then we can probably do better with no-tilling and it’ll certainly be better on the ground. No-tilling, I thought I reached a pinnacle when I got the erosion stopped. And then all of a sudden, that’s not getting to our soil health. We’re still degraded.

And Dr. West down at Oregon State kind of pointed that out to me I went to the Pendleton Station several times for their field days and one thing and another. And he and his research down there on erosion and they were doing no-tilling and they have long-term projects down there, plots. They started no-tilling in the early 90s, I think, and they had about ten years or twelve years of experience. 

Anyhow, they came out, they showed the graph and said, yeah, no-tilling, it took the steep line out of the degrading of the soil, but it didn’t get it above the neutral line. It stayed a little bit low. 

So when they replaced fallow with peas, then they were able to just kind of tweak that into the upper side. But I looked at that and I said, they had no residue. There was nothing in that plot. 

And I said, well, we got a lot more residue.

So I was hoping to maybe we were doing a little bit better at what they were doing down there. 

Carol McFarland

It’s kind of a double-edged sword, all that residue, from what I understand.

Tracy Eriksen

Oh, it is. It’s just a problem.

Carol McFarland

I also hear that it’s a byproduct of growing a whole bunch of wheat, which I feel like is not always a bad thing.

Tracy Eriksen

We have a lot of residue in most of the places. We got places that don’t have much. 

But a lot of our weed control is the fact that we just leave a hostile environment. We don’t move any, we haven’t moved anything since 1995 on our field. There’s been no harrows, no anything except a drill, a sprayer, and a mower.

That’s the only thing we’ve had on there. So the mole hills and all of that are a problem. I mean it can be a problem. But the seed hits that residue. It’s got a jump an air gap. So it’s a hostile environment. 

We don’t have a lot of fall volunteer. Late, yes, you can finally see some of it coming up. But the early fall volunteer that you see on a lot of the fields out here, we just don’t have. So we consider that residue as a, helps us in our weed control.

Also leaves all of that seed in that up there where there’s a lot of granivores type critters out there that eat everything. And we try not to disturb them.

Most of our weeds that we find now are in our wheel tracks. For ten years, we’ve seen that. Gosh, there’s nothing in this standing stubble. But yeah, the wheel track has got quite a bit. There’ll be a little bit out there. So we spray out our wheel tracks, we make a new wheel track. So then we have to go spray the weeds out of that.

I’ve thought for a long time, if we could just get rid of those wheel tracks, we could cut a lot of our chemistry out. We haven’t been able to do that. 

There’s a new technology just sitting on the edge waiting for us, and that’s drones. And I learned about them last year. 

I was hoping to have one by now. But the licensing is an issue. 

We were at a meeting yesterday where I think we’re going to have a fellow can help us on that. I think we will bring a drone operation up here this year and maybe do some acreage with it. He’s willing to come up we can’t go out there every two weeks or three weeks, whatever it might be, with a ground rig. We just can’t do that. But a drone we can do.

Carol McFarland 

That’s exciting.

Tracy Eriksen 

It is exciting. I’m really excited.

Carol McFarland 

I might let you off the hook on the third one because you’ve got the upcoming awesome crazy thing that you’re going to do.

Tracy Eriksen

We’re going to spend some money on that one. And that’s probably going to be my next big jump.

Carol McFarland

Yeah. But I have heard throughout the privilege of doing these interviews, people have shared

that various methods of more precision application of weed management strategies is really effective at cutting costs. And so whether that’s spot spray technology like the Weed-It or others, or mapping… 

Are you thinking like mapping your weeds and then going out there and spot spraying with

the drone?

Tracy Eriksen


The drone operator I was talking to, he was developing his own custom operation. His comment now, he says, well, he says he can map the weeds in the field now. 

We’re thinking about the T40s and the T50’s that’s coming out here this summer.

And he said, well, I might even be going back to a T20 because he says it’s going to be easier, but he says, I have the capability of mapping the weeds in the field and then a little T20 can go out and just hit those.

And I said, well, that’s kind of intriguing.

He’s mostly in an orchard and that type of thing now, but he’s broadening. So he’s on a learning curve too.

New technology, if you just wait a little bit longer, it’ll get a lot better, but you can always save your money and not ever get to that new technology. So you got to leap someplace. 

Carol McFarland 

Find that sweet spot.

I heard from… so Amy McKay was on the podcast and she’s one that actually also talked about using the spray drones. And she said with the money they saved, her husband was going to take her to Belize. 

Tracy Eriksen


Carol McFarland

Oh yeah. Or maybe buy a weed-it. We’ll see where that goes. I’ll have to follow up with her.

But no, I do have that, in the name of crazy things. I like the jump forward. 

I heard when you were saying you were going into minimum till and putting farm equipment together or tillage equipment together to make a more single pass type of tillage operation. 

Tracy Eriksen

Reducing our passes.

I hear people say, we get together and they have all of this discussion and ideas with their neighbors. I never talked with anybody. Nobody ever talked to me about it. We seem to be kind of on our own little planets and do our thing.

I’m sure they’re watching.

Carol McFarland

Oh, I bet they were curious.

Tracy Eriksen

I hear third and fourth parties around and say, well, I didn’t know he was watching that.

As I mentioned earlier, I don’t hide anything. It’s all out there. Some of them look very pretty.

Carol McFarland 

That’ll happen. Life’s messy. Trying stuff’s messy. Learning stuff, that can be messy. 

I did talk to one of your neighbors here recently and he gave a shout out to you. It sounds like he’s learned a lot from watching you too. 

Tracy Eriksen

Well, I’m glad I didn’t know he did that. 

Carol McFarland 

You’ll just have to go listen to Doug’s interview as well to hear that shout out. 

I wanted to give you a chance to share the name of your blog because I know I’ve looked at it. I’ve enjoyed it over the years, 

Tracy Eriksen

It’s just named, if you Google “Farming In the Palouse”, it’s pretty well up on the screen at that point. It may not be the first one because there’s a lot of pictures and that that’s related to farming on the Palouse or in the Palouse or whatever.

Farming In the Palouse is the name of it. 

I’m surprised how many pictures show up on the internet. It’s off of my blog. There’s lots of them relating to the no-tilling that I was really shocked to find them. 

Nobody asked permission. I didn’t care. But I was very surprised to see, oh gosh, I can come off my blog. So somebody was looking at it someplace

Carol McFarland .

You must be a good photographer on top of it all.

Tracy Eriksen

Not really.

Carol McFarland 

No, that’s awesome. 

All right, let’s do a quick lightning round. 

What’s the most fun thing about trying new stuff on your farm?

Tracy Eriksen

Different. It just breaks up monotony. Farming is boring. To me, farming is boring. You got to do something to liven it up.

I look at a lot of the operations around here. I said, my gosh, that operation has been doing that same thing as long as I’ve been alive. I couldn’t stand that. I was trained as an engineer, but I came to farm with my dad. A few wraps around the field, and that’s about enough for me. So all of this innovation, in some way, was just a break of the normal to do something different.

The off-farm stuff I was on the hospital board for 20 some years. I was in the conservation movement for 23, 24 years.That was mostly a break for me. A lot of that was a break to get off the farm to do something different, get different people. 

It was a break up the monotony. I just could never do a lot of them together. I only did one at a time because I was the main labor source. I couldn’t let the operation go that long.

My engineering background as an agriculture engineer, I was trained as a jack of all trades and a master of nothing. You had to go into the higher master’s programs and that to really learn something. But it did give me the interest and ability to make changes even though I was slow. 

But also piqued my interest to keep something up and do something different. Just do it different. And don’t die off of it, so to speak. Operation go belly up or whatever. Learn how to back out of it. Learn how to take your time. But diversity of operation.

Carol McFarland

Just seeing that diversity coming back to that again.

Tracy Eriksen

I could not see you just go around and around that field.

It just don’t work. A lot of people didn’t do it, but I’m not one that could.

Carol McFarland

I think I see a very curious person.

What is the most annoying thing about trying new stuff on the farm?

Tracy Eriksen 

You always have challenges trying to find parts, trying to get stuff in here.

I’ve always been, the few pieces of equipment I have bought that are never off the shelves locally. I brought in…in 1984 I bought a crushed buster drill with a brand new leading edge technology on the disk.

It came in from Kansas through Rosalia and I had that for years.

I bought or built a cross slot drill and that’s New Zealand.

The most annoying thing or the problem area is you have to inventory parts for your replacements or replaceable or whatever thing it wears. 

You can’t rely on any more or less so you can’t rely on going in and getting something off the shelf.

That’s annoying to have to wait.

We waited over a year to get parts and I waited long enough last- two years ago. Waited almost a year. I ordered up another group of parts from another location. It was only six hours from us but they all came together at the same day.

It was in Canada.They were hung up in the border. So by the time we got it through the border, the stuff that came up from New Zealand all came together at the same day. But we weren’t going to turn any of it back.

Carol McFarland

Now you’ve got back up.

Tracy Eriksen

We will use it, it will just take a little bit more time. There’s money out there that you originally wouldn’t have had to spend immediately.

But that would be the annoying thing. 

But I did that knowing the parts were not going to be off the shelf so you prepare for it. I can’t really say it really annoyed me. Sometimes it gets a little concerning. You have to jerry-rig around that.

You try to avoid that.

Carol McFarland

Yeah. Well, it’s part of farming too, isn’t it? That’s that ag engineering degree.

I feel like you’ve had a lot of chances to ask scientists questions but for the record, if you could ask a scientist a question, what would it be? Your most pressing at the moment?

Tracy Eriksen

I don’t have one.

Carol McFarland 

It’s because you go to all the field days and you ask them there.

Tracy Eriksen

Yeah, well, I do. I do go to the field days. I ask them.

But mostly I’m just seeing where they are against what we’re doing. And there’s nothing that they are doing or not doing that I’m not going, that’s going to affect how…If they really have an innovation that comes up, I perk my ears up.

But I’m not an innovator. I would call myself an early adopter. I’m not sure I’ve ever had an innovative thought in my head. But I see this stuff out there. I think I do have a knack to say that has a potential. I’m going to try it. Or no, I’m not going to deal with that.

We’re not that big of an operation to start with, just to be throwing a lot of stuff out there.

WeedX is a great technology, that whole concept.

I’ve looked at it a lot and I like what it’s trying to do. It’s never been something I really wanted to deal with because it’s horribly costly. It doesn’t quite add up to its billing yet. It’s doing better all the time. But it’s not one of those things that, oh yeah, I’ve got to have that thing. That’s not a piece of technology that I’ve got to have.

Carol McFarland 

It sounds like you’re going in a different direction though, to get at a similar management goal.

Tracy Eriksen


I think the drones are going to help me when we get to that. That’s going to help. 

Our heavy residue helps us on the weed issues.Trying to cut down the tracking is going to be a big thing for us.

One of the most frustrating things I think. We can cut our weed population down a lot, but we can’t cut our spray operation out.

I’ve got maybe a hundred weeds.I’ve cut it down from a thousand weeds, but I still got to go after those hundred weeds. 

Right now there’s no way… That’s what intrigues you with us with the WeedX and those type of technologies, particularly if you can get it out in the crop, which I guess they’re starting now even able to do a little bit. You can cut that down.

If you’ve got a lot of those situations, you could probably make the WeedX work, but we’re 

not big enough for that yet. 

Carol McFarland

Okay, and last but not least, is there anyone who you would like to nominate to be on the 

On Farm Trials podcast?

Tracy Eriksen

I think that you’ve already got everybody that I would list.

Carol McFarland 

Tracy, it’s been such a wonderful conversation.

Thank you so much for taking your time, having me out to your place, and sharing your experience.

Tracy Eriksen

Thank you for coming.I enjoyed the time. 

Carol McFarland