Category: Conservation

Discovery Farms data fuels conservation efforts

Written by Jonathan Eisenthal

For Minnesotans, achieving the best possible water quality is non-negotiable. Farmers share that mindset, and are taking action to be part of the solution.

One way they have demonstrated it over the past decade is Discovery Farms, a program that monitors actual working farms and assesses exactly how much soil and nutrients leave the fields and enter streams and lakes. The data gathered from many different kinds of farms in different landscapes offers a strong indication that farmers can use conservation methods to reduce their impact on the environment.

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Supercomputing comes to Ag

(University of Minnesota Supercomputing Experts Kevin Silverstein and Naomi Hospodarsky will help the Soil Health Partnership bring powerful analysis to its data.)

Written by Jonathan Eisenthal

The power of supercomputing has helped bring new levels of accuracy to many areas, including weather forecasts as one example.

A National Corn Growers Association initiative, the Soil Health Partnership (SHP) has begun working with the University of Minnesota’s interdisciplinary supercomputing group called GEMS to bring that predictive power to conservation agriculture.

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The role conservation plays in a wetter climate

Written by Jonathan Eisenthal

This year was the wettest on record by amount of precipitation, according to climatologist Mark Seeley. The result for growers has been record levels of muddy fields across the state.

For farmers who wonder if conservation tillage, cover crops and soil health techniques can keep them out of the muck, and give them an edge by saving time, labor and money, the answers will be on the table at the University of Minnesota Extension Conservation Tillage Conference in St.

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Field day shares soil health tips and tricks from the pits

University of Minnesota Extension Educator Jodi DeJong-Hughes has spent much of career below ground analyzing soil health from pits on farms across Minnesota. This Sept. 10, she will be hosting a field day that will for the first time share how farmers can do this analysis on their own.

Held in Granite Falls, the field day will share how attendees can take a shovel to any part of their field and have a better understanding of what they are seeing for soil health.

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Innovation Grant Spotlight: Taking the unknowns out of raising crops

(Velde installed the in-ground drip irrigation system in 2017)

Written by Jonathan Eisenthal

The rise in technology is changing how we farm. For example, today’s farmers have the ability to know, in real time, exactly how much moisture and what volume of nutrients lay in the soil.

Yellow Medicine County farmer Brian Velde is testing the impact of these next generation insights as part of the Minnesota Corn Innovation Grant Program,

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The 2020 Innovation Grant Program RFP is open for Minnesota’s corn growers

Minnesota corn farmers once again have the opportunity to put their innovative conservation ideas into action through the Minnesota Corn Innovation Grant Program. The RFP for the program officially opened earlier this month, with proposals being accepted until Dec. 31.

In its fifth year, the Innovation Grant Program has widened its focus for innovative projects on the farm. Last year, the program expanded to accept solutions to prevent both nitrogen and phosphorous loss to ground and surface water.

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Cover crops a popular option for prevent plant fields; what to know

Many Minnesota farmers have been forced to take a prevented plant designation on acres left unseeded due to what was a terrible spring. After taking prevent plant, farmers are faced with the decision of what to do with fields sitting on the sidelines for 2019.

After speaking with their crop insurance consultant, many farmers are turning to cover crops to protect their soil over the growing season.

Axel Garcia y Garcia is an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota’s Southwest Research and Outreach Center who researches cover crop implementation.

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Nitrogen Smart seminar continues from the comfort of your home

Nitrogen Smart recently wrapped up its fourth year of seminars across Minnesota farm country focused on the fundamentals of nitrogen management. For farmers unable to attend, University of Minnesota Extension launched an online version of Nitrogen Smart that farmers can now take year-round at home.

An identical curriculum to in-person seminars, Nitrogen Smart’s new and interactive training program creates a unique experience for producers based on their own operation and region.

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Study shows cover crops are effective in reducing nitrate loss in drainage tile

To better protect water quality throughout Minnesota, the state’s corn growers are investing in research preventing nitrogen loss on the farm. Cover crops have recently emerged as an effective tool to help keep the vital nutrient for corn productions where it belongs—in the soil.

The Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MCGA) and Minnesota Corn Research & Promotion Council (MCR&PC) supported a study that examines the role cover crops play in reducing nitrogen loss to surface waters through tile drainage.

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Nitrogen Smart seminars put dollars in farmers’ pockets

Written by Jonathan Eisenthal

Minnesota farmers could save $77 million dollars a year from improved nitrogen management practices, experts told the audience at a University of Minnesota Extension Nitrogen Smart seminar last week in Owatonna.

“If we do better at nitrogen management, it puts money in our pockets,” said Brad Carlson, an Extension educator who helps lead Nitrogen Smart seminars. “As an industry, the cheapest thing we can do to reduce nitrate losses is managing nitrogen with more precision.”

While helping farmers save through improved management practices,

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