Category: Conservation

Out of thin air: Using wind energy to make fertilizer

Did you know it’s possible to use wind energy to make fertilizer? And did you know that it’s being done right here in Minnesota, at the University of Minnesota’s West Central Research & Outreach Center (WCROC) in Morris?

I didn’t know any of this, but was curious to learn more, so I visited the WCROC to a get a firsthand look at this innovative project. Mike Reese, WCROC’s director of renewable energy,

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Four years later, Discovery Farms Minnesota is going strong

In just four short years, Minnesota Discovery Farms has come a long way.

“The program has really taken off. We’ve established a working network from the southeast corner of Minnesota all the way up to the far northwest,” said Warren Formo, executive director of the Minnesota Agricultural Water Resources Center.

Discovery Farms is a farmer-led effort to gather field scale water quality information from different types of farming systems in landscapes throughout Minnesota.

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Minnesota Corn Growers Highlight Investments to Protect Surface and Groundwater

A new publication from the Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MCGA) highlights initiatives corn farmers have supported to protect surface and groundwaters from nitrogen loss. Initiatives include third-party research, innovative on-farm programs and people with an expertise in research and education.

The “Minnesota Corn Growers Association Nitrogen Initiatives” publication can be viewed here. Overall, MCGA invests about $2 million annually in projects that address corn production and water quality.

“Corn farmers grow the food,

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What's up with EPA and the Renewable Fuel Standard?

It’s been two months since the public comment period ended on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposal to cut the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and drastically reduce the amount of the homegrown ethanol blended in our fuel.

Over 7,000 Minnesota corn farmers signed letters telling EPA to not mess with the RFS. EPA still hasn’t decided if it will keep the proposed cuts, scale them back, or ditch them altogether.

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Stearns County farmers get details Minnesota's Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program

Farmers in the Middle Sauk River watershed district in Stearns County got a firsthand look at Minnesota’s new Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program (MAWQCP) during two open house events this week.

The Middle Sauk is one of four pilot areas selected to test and refine the voluntary program, which aims to increase on-farm conservation practices to protect Minnesota’s lakes and rivers. Farmers who become certified and maintain approved management practices are assured that their farms meet Minnesota’s water quality goals and standards for 10 years.

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Should voluntary water regulations for farmers be made mandatory?

Minnesota Public Radio asked visitors to its website this week if voluntary water regulations for farmers should be made mandatory. So far the response to the question in the comments section doesn’t appear to contain many farmer viewpoints.

If you farm, and you have an opinion on the topic, don’t be afraid to share your perspective. Perhaps you could let people know how Minnesota’s corn farmers use their own money through a voluntary check-off program to fund more than $4 million in new and ongoing research efforts annually,

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Energy Balance? The scale tips heavily in ethanol's favor

Written by Jonathan Eisenthal

The secret to ethanol’s phenomenal energy return — 2.34 BTUs out for every 1 BTU of fossil energy input — begins with the corn plant’s excellence as a solar capture medium, says Randall Doyal, CEO of Al-Corn Energy in Claremont, Minn.

“What people don’t understand is that we are not creating new energy when we make ethanol. We’re capturing solar energy,” Doyal said. “There are always people who want to tell you how great voltaics and other solar energy capture devices are,

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Big Oil's ultimate goal: Get rid of the RFS

The Environmental Protection Agency proposed slashing the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) and lowering 2014 ethanol blending targets by 1.4 billion gallons last Friday.

Of course, Big Oil companies and their allies praised the proposal. Even though the EPA’s decision is a step backward for American consumers, it’s a major step forward for the oil industry as it strives to strengthen its monopoly on the transportation fuels market.

Oil companies smell blood in the water.

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Associated Press story plows under the facts about ethanol

Do you enjoy writing filled with hyperbole? How about “reporting” that cites long-dispelled myths as fact and uses professional talking heads as sources? Is lazy journalism that aims to manufacture controversy (think Skip Bayless at ESPN or one of the many loudmouths that pollute the talk radio airwaves) your thing?

Then an upcoming story from the Associated Press (AP) about so-called “dirty” ethanol is right up your alley. The story is embargoed until Nov.

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Never read the comments (especially when the topic is ethanol)

Those who venture into the comments section of a newspaper website rarely emerge unscathed. Newspaper comments sections are a jungle of misinformation, nastiness, name-calling and anonymous people behind a keyboard who know very little and pretend (often angrily) that they know a lot.

All of that is ratcheted up by a factor of 10 when you wade into the comments section of a story about ethanol. There’s a reason we should all live by the following motto: Never read the comments.

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