Category: Sustainability

Corn Links: Buffer strips, algae blooms, data, and best-in-show

It’s Tuesday, the weather is warming up again, and harvest time is getting closer and closer. Here are a couple of must-read stories from the world of corn and farming that are worth checking out:

All buffers, all the time
Minnesota’s new buffer legislation remains a hot topic in the Minnesota farming community. Daniel Looker at examined the issue in a story today. It’s worth a read for the insight Looker provides on a couple of Farm Service Agency programs that may help farmers when complying with the new buffer regulations.

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“Conservation in Action” tour visits MCGA President's family farm

Four buses filled with national policymakers and conservation leaders rolled onto the Northfield family farm of Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MCGA) President Bruce Peterson on Aug. 12 as part of the Conservation Technology Information Center’s (CTIC) “Conservation in Action Tour.”

Peterson’s farm was one of five stops on a tour of Southeastern Minnesota that highlighted the many conservation efforts of Minnesota farmers. The group learned more about what Peterson and his family do on their farm to protect soil health,

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Innovative project could help farmers overcome drought and protect water quality

An innovative project managed by University of Minnesota researcher Dr. Jeff Strock could help farmers boost yields while also improving water quality.

Later this summer, Strock will oversee the installation of an on-farm storage pond on a farm in Southwestern Minnesota. Surface and subsurface drainage water will be diverted to the pond instead of nearby waterways. Later in the summer, the water can be used for irrigation when thirsty crops need it most.

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These MN family farmers are proud to call themselves "active environmentalists"

It’s rare that Jeffrey and Karen Larson shut down their combine in the middle of harvest season. But when their landlord’s daughter and family called and asked if her and a few friends from the Twin Cities could come over for a tour of the Larson’s farm a few years ago, the Larsons took a short break from the fields and gave the group a taste of what farming in Minnesota is all about.

“We’re going to take the time,

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6,000 feet of buffers protect water quality on this Faribault county family farm

On their family farm in Wells, Minn., Mark and Lea Nowak have over 6,000 feet of buffer strips along a large county drainage ditch that enters Walnut Lake and eventually flows into the Blue Earth River before ending up in the Minnesota River.

The buffers are 33 feet wide, twice as long as what the county recommended when they were installed in 2008.

“It’s nice to walk along and see that it’s keeping sediments and runoff out of the water,” Mark said.

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This week showed why it's important for farmers to tell their own story

We’ve spent the past week here at highlighting some of the common, everyday conservation efforts of Minnesota’s corn farmers.

To many farmers, conservation practices like buffer strips, grass waterways or setting aside wildlife habitat is part of everyday life on the farm. But non-farmers might not be familiar with such practices and how farmers implement them.

That’s why it’s important for farmers to tell their own story, with an emphasis on conservation efforts.

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Field-to-Stream Partnership helps farmers improve water quality in Southeast MN

A collaboration among farmers, farm groups, private industry, conservation organizations, researchers and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture is gathering on-farm data to help farmers better protect water quality in Southeastern Minnesota.

The Root River Field-to-Stream Partnership started in 2009 and uses innovative equipment and technology to monitor sediment and nutrient runoff from farm fields. The real-world, on-farm runoff data will help farmers better understand what is leaving their fields and entering nearby waterways so they can implement conservation practices to address the issue.

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Amazing drone footage of a MN farmer protecting water quality

Dan Erickson, a third-generation farmer near Alden in Southern Minnesota, joined a growing number of corn farmers this year who side-dress nitrogen.

Nitrogen, aka fertilizer, is needed to provide nutrients that grow corn — Minnesota’s most bountiful crop that produces food, feed, fiber and fuel for the entire world. Technological advancements, combined with years of farmer-funded research, now make it possible for corn farmers to apply nitrogen at different times during the growing season.

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Toquam family carries on conservation and farming tradition

The Toquam family’s history of on-farm conservation efforts started back in the 1930s, when Clifford Toquam planted a line of arbor vitae trees three-eighths of a mile long to protect his fields from wind erosion.

Today, Roger Toquam and his family are the fourth generation to carry on that farming and conservation tradition.

“There’s something bred in a farmer about knowing what’s the right thing to do,” Roger said. “It bothers us if we see soil erosion or runoff happening.

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Check out how this MN farmer protects water quality and soil fertility

Bryan Biegler had been thinking about switching to strip-tiling his corn and soybean fields for almost 10 years before he finally tried it.

“I got sick of seeing my soil wash away during big, heavy rains,” said the third-generation farmer from Lake Wilson in southwestern Minnesota.

Today, Biegler notices the difference strip-tilling has made. There are still a few spots that get washed out during heavy rains (that’s inevitable), but more of his soil and fertilizer stays on his fields and out of nearby ditches and waterways.

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