Category: Sustainability

How center pivot irrigation helps my family’s farm

Central pivot irrigationBy Nick Peterson

As I have made my way around the state of Minnesota the past number of years through work, school, and recreational trips, I’ve realized my idea of Minnesota is quite a bit different than I grew up thinking. Growing up on a crop and livestock farm in Sherburne County, it is apparent that our way of farming is more in the minority than it is the majority.

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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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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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Helping farmers navigate the latest conservation-related reports, programs, strategies and initiatives

FarmKeeping up with the latest reports, studies, regulations, programs and initiatives related to conservation can sometimes make a farmer’s head spin.

Over the last couple of months, several reports have been released and strategies proposed by various agencies and organizations that aim to improve Minnesota’s water quality and enhance on-farm conservation efforts. These reports total almost 1,000 pages, span dozens of websites, involve multiple organizations and encompass several government programs and non-governmental initiatives.

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MDA wraps up N management plan listening sessions

Plan would create phased response to nitrates in groundwater, with a potential for regulatory action

Written by Jonathan Eisenthal

Six listening sessions have not turned up any earth-shaking critical comments about the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s (MDA) proposed Nitrogen Fertilizer Management Plan, according to MDA officials. The comment period continues until Nov. 1, at which point Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson will consider the comments and publish the final version of the plan.

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MCGA Elects Goodhue County Farmer Ryan Buck President for 2013-14

Ryan Buck is the new president of the Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MCGA). Buck, a corn and soybean farmer in Goodhue County, will succeed current president Tom Haag on Oct. 1, 2013 and serve a one-year term.

The MCGA board also elected Bruce Peterson (Northfield) as vice president, Noah Hultgren (Raymond) as treasurer and re-elected Jean Knackmuhs (Walnut Grove) to a second term as board secretary.

“Farmers have an opportunity to take the lead on issues like water quality,

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Corn Links: Farm Bill, Chipotle and the Chesapeake Bay

The farm bill is still going nowhere, Chipotle gets called out by Funny or Die and a judge upholds a ruling on the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load issue. More details below in this Friday’s Corn Links:

Farm bill still stuck
If congress fails to pass a farm bill by Oct. 1, conservation programs will take a hit. According to Andrew McElwaine of the American Farmland Trust, conservation compliance has saved more than 295 million tons of soil annually and protected more than 3 million acres of wetlands.

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Farm Tour Highlights Nitrate Reduction Strategies

Two research locations in the coarse-textured soils of Central Minnesota highlight the sensitivity of the region to groundwater impacts, but also show how eager farmers are to come up with solutions that reduce the presence of nitrate-nitrogen below very stringent levels.

The Clean Water Fund generated by the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment sales tax approved by Minnesota voters presents a number of opportunities to protect or remediate groundwater resources impacted by surface runoff.

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Gophers Football Farm Family of the Game: The Pace Family from Hanska, Minn.

As long as he can remember, Bruce Pace wanted to be a farmer.

He belonged to 4-H and FFA growing up and showed hogs at the state fair with his brother. By seventh grade, he was actively farming with his father and got into crop farming after high school.

Today, Bruce grows 1,000 acres of corn and soybeans, runs a custom hog feeding facility and oversees a Pioneer seed dealership. The farm,

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