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Minnesota conservationists look to dig deep to improve soil health


Fri, Sep 20th, 2013
Posted in All Agriculture

By Brian DeVore

On a recent morning in August, North Dakota farmer Jerry Doan waded into a chest-high stand of cover crops that included millet, a type of sunflower and grazing corn. He explained to a visiting group of Minnesota soil conservationists and farmers that this stand, which was planted in June after wheat was harvested, will provide winter feed for his beef herd. Just as importantly, all the plants’ roots and uneaten stalks, along with the manure produced by the grazing cattle, will feed billions of microbes below the surface. Those microbes will build the soil’s health, which in turn will help produce Doan’s 2014 corn or sunflower crop.

“We had for so long forgotten about what was going on below-ground,” said the farmer as he examined a spaded-up clod of fragrant soil.

As Doan and the other farmers, conservationists and scientists who hosted the Minnesotans during the August soil health tour made clear, paying attention to what goes on in that mysterious world where roots, microbes and insects interact can pay off financially and environmentally.

This tour to south-central North Dakota’s Burleigh County was sponsored by the Minnesota Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the USDA’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program. Over 40 participants came from across Minnesota to see how farmers in Burleigh County are building soil health in a region that gets 16 inches of precipitation annually -- a foot less than what Minnesota gets in a typical year. Over the years, the Burleigh County Soil Health Team has used a combination of cover crops, rotational grazing and no-till farming to increase soil’s natural ability to cook up fertility, resist erosion and make better use of moisture. The Team, which consists of local farmers, conservation agency staff and USDA scientists, has attracted attention from around the world; just this summer, Russian and French visitors came to Burleigh County to dig in the soil.

Visitors often have assumptions turned upside down. For example, in August the Minnesota contingent saw un-irrigated corn, pastureland and hay ground that was thriving despite drought conditions.

“I have worked with irrigators for 20 years and I have never seen a corn crop look this good with eight weeks of no rain,” said Brad Wenz, a soil conservationist for the Stearns County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) .....
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Multi-species cover crop field day near Harmony

Fri, Sep 20th, 2013
Posted in Harmony Agriculture

The benefits of cover crops are becoming more apparent as more farmers use them. A field day will be held Saturday, September 28 from 10 a.m. to noon at the Jim Love farm west of Harmony, Minn. (13748 201st Ave., Preston, Minn.) to discuss these man ..... 
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SIGN UP FOR WORLD DAIRY EXPO BUS TRIP

Tue, Sep 17th, 2013
Posted in All Agriculture

Calmar, Iowa - Join the Northeast Iowa Community-Based Dairy Foundation, and other sponsors on our one-day journey to World Dairy Expo in Madison on Friday, October 4. Friday’s event highlights at World Dairy Expo include the International Gu ..... 
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34th Annual MN IA State Line Plowing Association Field Day

Fri, Sep 13th, 2013
Posted in Harmony Agriculture

The 34th Annual MN IA Stateline Horse Plowing Association Field Day will be held Saturday, September 21 on the Mike Mueller farm rain or shine! There will be plowing, disking and dragging with horses and mules. The Mueller farm is located 12 mi. wes ..... 
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Grain Drowning

By Jerrold Tesmer

Fri, Sep 13th, 2013
Posted in All Agriculture

By Jerrold Tesmer, Extension Educator for Fillmore/Houston Counties Farm Safety Week is a reminder that the fall harvest season is fast approaching. With the anticipation that we will have less than ideal crops to harvest this fall; i.e. wetter tha ..... 
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Grow with us! Become a U of M Extension Master Gardener

By Jerrold Tesmer

Fri, Sep 6th, 2013
Posted in All Agriculture

By Jerrold Tesmer, Extension Educator for Fillmore/Houston Counties Who are Master Gardeners? Master Gardeners are from all walks of life and volunteer on behalf of their university. They are eager to share best practices in gardening with people ..... 
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Fall nitrogen applications not recomended in Fillmore County

Fri, Sep 6th, 2013
Posted in All Agriculture

Travis Willford, Harmony Brian Hazel, Lanesboro Pamela Mensink, Preston Tim Gossman, Chatfield Leonard Leutink Jr., Spring Valley Fillmore County is among the seven counties in southeastern Minnesota’s karst region where fall application of n ..... 
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Livestock: Life long passion

By Megan Kiehne

Fri, Aug 30th, 2013
Posted in Lanesboro Agriculture

By Megan Kiehne Dedication and commitment can lead to great achievement as proven by Ashley Bue, Fillmore County 4-H’er and livestock shower. As soon as Bue was old enough to show beef cattle at the Fillmore County Fair, she was in the arena. Lov ..... 
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Pricing Corn Silage

By Jerrold Tesmer

Fri, Aug 30th, 2013
Posted in All Agriculture

By Jerrold Tesmer, Extension Educator for Fillmore/Houston Counties Due to the late planting dates and a cooler than normal growing season this year, many corn fields will probably be harvested for silage. There is potential for corn in these field ..... 
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