Category: Conservation

Discovery Farms Profile: Measuring up to a high standard in water quality means the world to Simonsen family

written by Jonathan Eisenthal

For years, Diamond Lake has been the summer gathering place for the Simonsen family. Four years ago Paul and Janet built a house there to replace the family cabin. Fishing, swimming and jet skiing all have their devotees among the three generations.

So Paul and Janet Simonsen, who farm in Renville County, are very conscious about water quality.

That might be the top reason they decided to sign on with the farmer-funded research program called Minnesota Discovery Farms — 11 different farm operations across Minnesota,

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Discovery Farms Minnesota helps farmers protect water quality and soil fertility

A green rectangular box with a solar panel on top and weather instruments jutting into the air sits at t the edge of Doug Hager’s field south of Mankato.

There’s a flume on the ground to the left, and beyond that is another green box, a trail camera and rain gauge.

The setup looks mysterious, but all that equipment is helping Minnesota farmers protect water quality and soil fertility. Hager’s farm is one of 11 Minnesota Discovery Farms,

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Fifth-generation farmers to be honored at Gophers football home opener

by Jonathan Eisenthal

Kirby Hettver represents the fifth generation of his family to farm in Chippewa County, 20 miles west of Willmar. Kirby, wife Mandi and daughters Amelia (8) and Hazelee (6) will be honored Thursday night as the Minnesota Corn Growers Farm Team Family when the Gophers open their football season against Eastern Illinois at 6 p.m. on Thursday at TCF Bank Stadium.

The Hettver’s are being honored because of their commitment to take care of the land they farm.

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Nitrate sample testing offered by MAWRC a hit at Farmfest

With all the recent buzz about ag water quality, the Minnesota Agricultural Water Resource Center (MAWRC) offered free and confidential sample testing for nitrates at this year’s FarmFest, Aug. 5-7 near Redwood Falls.

“We tested samples of water that landowners brought from wells, drainage tile and ditches on their property,” said Tim Radatz, research specialist at MAWRC. “We got an excellent response to the service. People who were unaware that we were offering it stopped and talked to us anyway.

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EWG recycles a bunch of ethanol myths, calls it a "study"

What do you get when Big Oil and corporate activists team up to attack farmers and consumers?

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) and its new (*ahem*), “study” bashing ethanol and corn farmers.

The (*cough*) “study” comes out just as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is set to issue a final ruling on its proposal to slash the amount of homegrown ethanol blended into our fuel supply as called for in the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

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Making diesel engines more efficient with hydrous ethanol

Inside a square room at the University of Minnesota’s new T.E. Murphy Engine Research Laboratory in Minneapolis, Will Northrop is working to refine a cleaner and more efficient diesel engine.

With funding support from the Minnesota Corn Growers Association and AURI, Northrop and his team at the U of M’s Department of Mechanical Engineering are developing technology to use hydrous ethanol as the primary fuel in diesel engines.

When used in diesel engines,

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NCGA to President Obama: Allow the bipartisan RFS to continue working

The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), along with biotechnology businesses and ethanol groups, called on President Obama last week to reverse the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposal to slash the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

In a letter sent to the President, NCGA and the other groups cited the recently released National Climate Assessment as yet another reason to maintain a strong RFS and continue setting our goals high for blending homegrown biofuels in our gasoline.

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A quick update on farming, buffer strips and the Minnesota Shoreland Rule

A recent story in the Star Tribune questioned whether a large number of farmers in Southern Minnesota are in violation of the law for growing crops near rivers and streams. Despite what the story implied, state regulations on buffer strips are not absolute.

The Minnesota Shoreland Rule requires a 50-foot buffer strip along all lakes greater than 25 acres and, essentially, all permanent streams. However, farming is permitted and buffer strips are not required if 1) the farmer is operating under an approved conservation plan from USDA’s Natural Resource &

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A quick update on DNR irrigation permits

The Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MCGA) remains engaged with lawmakers and agencies about issues surrounding farming and water sources. As fewer people are elected to office with an agriculture background, it’s important that corn farmers continue to have a seat at the table as regulations are debated and laws are introduced that impact Minnesota’s farms.

Recently, farmers have expressed concerns about irrigation issues, specifically the irrigation permitting process with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

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Talking fast and planting straight

The Minnesota Corn Growers Association launched its “Minnesota Farm Team” campaign last week to highlight how corn farmers take care of our land, water and soil. MinnesotaCornerstone.com will profile a different member of the Farm Team every day this week.

To Joe Maidl, a nice, straight crop row is more than an aesthetic satisfaction — it saves time, money, fuel and lowers farming’s carbon footprint.

Maidl farms in Lafayette: “It’s the middle or the south central or what you might call the belly button of the state,”

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