Written by Jonathan Eisenthal
Deric and Julie Sievert both grew up on dairy farms, so they know what’s left in the cow stall isn’t just a throw away. Paying particular attention to where those nutrients go keeps their farm, just north of Gibbon, going strong.
The Sievert family raises corn, soybeans, barley and alfalfa, along with cattle, hogs and sheep, and a few chickens. The Sieverts vary the application of manure according to where the soil needs it most, and where crops can maximize the benefits while preventing nutrient losses.
Deric and Julie and their kids Cody, 12, and Nicole, 10, were honored in late January as a University of Minnesota Gopher Hockey ‘Farm Family of the Game’. The University and MCGA are honoring four families this hockey season, spotlighting the importance of using best management practices that help preserve Minnesota’s rich natural resources. Cody Sievert even had the opportunity to take a ride on the zamboni during a break in the action (pictured).
“We have a nutrient management plan, so that we carefully plan the placement of manure and we incorporate it in the soil as soon as possible,” says Deric, a fifth generation farmer. “We do soil sampling in the fall, and we get the results back and you get a pretty good idea of where you had enough nutrients and where you were short, and you can adjust the placement for next year, based on that.”
The family also uses several other conservation practices on their farm. For example, five years ago, the Sieverts decided to increase the size of their buffers to 20 feet in some areas, to help increase the vegetative filtration benefits.
“I have a ditch that runs right through my land, all the way through it,” says Deric. “So I decided to add just a little extra width, because I found that would make it easier to manage. We have some hills on the land, too, and you put in alfalfa on those as much as possible, to prevent erosion,” Sievert says.
Growing up on dairy farms, both Julie and Deric know about making the most of your own resources as a farmer. It’s a shared value they teach their children as they grow older and take a more active part in the family farm.
“I try to repair everything on my own,” says Deric. “Equipment doesn’t really leave my place, except for computer repairs.”
And though he knows raising livestock isn’t for every farm, Deric says on their farm, it works well.
“That’s what it takes to make it in this day and age, I think. Diversity.”