Utah State Extension in Beaver County: Off the Grid
Mark Wintch's ranch is nearly 9,000 acres in the Wah Wah Valley on the western edge of Beaver County. It's an hour from the nearest groceries and, although he has a phone line, he has to generate all his own electricity. Four years ago he took a big chance by dropping out of school and going back to the family ranch to try to make it financially viable again.
"I told my professors that I could do this now or spend the rest of my life wondering if I could do it," Wintch said.
To make the ranch profitable he also has to grow most of his own alfalfa on 220 acres irrigated by center pivots. Water and other resources are in short supply so he was grateful when Beaver County Extension agent Mark Nelson came out to help him with soil tests and irrigation analysis.
The result was that he found that the pivots were running too fast and thus not applying enough water. By making some simple adjustments in sprinkler heads and speed of the pivot he was able to increase his alfalfa yield by one ton per acre on his 220 acres.
"These are the types of ranchers Extension is best equipped to help, Nelson said. Although the farm goes back four generations, Mark has only been there for four years. And he is way out on the edge of the county by himself. In other areas he might be able to get help from neighbors."