"Where Fillmore County News Comes First"
Online Edition
Tuesday, July 28th, 2015
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Prairie Strips Offer Glimmer of Hope


By Loni Kemp

Fri, Aug 8th, 2014
Posted in All Columnists

Water pollution from agriculture is all over the news these days. A half million people had their water turned off in Toledo, Ohio, on the shores of Lake Erie due to toxic water from algae blooms, largely caused by nutrients from fertilizers and manure building up in the smallest of the Great Lakes. It is the same issue in the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico, fed by runoff from corn belt farms from Minnesota and on downstream.

Closer to home, the Star Tribune ran an extensive article documenting that a quarter of the area’s pastures and hayfields were converted to corn and soybeans in southeast Minnesota since 2007. By expanding row crops, farms are losing more fertilizer to rivers and groundwater. Experts predict that 45 percent of private wells will be contaminated, leadings to up to $12 million cost to homeowners for new wells and purification equipment. Will lower crop prices stop this unwise plowing up of grasslands?

But amidst these concerns, exciting developments at Iowa State University hold out hope that small changes in cropping could bring positive impacts to the environment. I share this information in hopes that farmers will adopt this change to how they farm.

Prairie conservation STRIPS (science-based trials of row-crops integrated with prairie strips) are proving that strategically converting as little as 10 percent of a corn or soybean field to perennial prairie patches can reduce total nutrient loss by 85-90 percent.

I had a chance to tour the research site in central Iowa last week, amid hundreds of square miles of corn and beans. The experiments were located on hilly fields, like many in Fillmore County.

These prairie strips are planted in narrow patches along one or two contours crosswise to the slope and at the bottom of slopes. The practice doesn’t look like much, but it makes a huge difference, because deep-rooted grasses and flowering plants slow surface runoff with their stiff stems, hold soil in place during heavy rains, increase infiltration of water and increase soil organic matter.

From 2007 to 2012, these crop fields were planted to prairie on only one-tenth of the field, yet they reduced soil movement off the the field by 95 percent. Total phosphorus loss was reduced by 90 percent. Total nitrogen export was reduced by 85 percent compared to losses from 100 percent row crop land.

The astonishing thing is that fields both wi .....
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Real Bites: The Sweaty Gypsy of Peterson

Fri, Aug 1st, 2014
Posted in All Columnists

Have you ever heard of a sweaty gypsy? Me neither. Not until I visited Burdeys Cafe in Peterson, Minn. As I scanned the menu, I arrived at a section titled “Fancy Pants Gourmet Burgers,” and the first one on the list was The Sweaty Gypsy. ..... 
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Mint Julep

By Kathy Little

Fri, Aug 1st, 2014
Posted in All Columnists

“Build it and they will come” is an old saying. I say build a fence and people will wonder what is behind it just like in the “Wizard of Oz” when Dorothy wondered what was behind the curtain during an audience with the great wizard. My hu ..... 
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Honey Raspberry Iced Tea

By Jeanette Schmidt

Fri, Jul 25th, 2014
Posted in All Columnists

How’s your garden doing? ... A common greeting this time of the year. Up until a few weeks ago, our answer was “good”. Then one morning we came out to some beet foliage mowed to the ground and parts of the beautiful row of peas torn down…(p ..... 
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Grand View Grows From Land

By Loni Kemp

Fri, Jul 18th, 2014
Posted in All Columnists

John Weiss, Senior Staff Writer for the Rochester Post Bulletin, had been nudging me for several months to talk about my consulting work. We finally caught up with each other in my garden during asparagus season, and he wrote this article for his we ..... 
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Coconut Cookies

By Judy Thomas

Fri, Jul 11th, 2014
Posted in All Columnists

July 14, 1914 - What is so significant about that date? Well, it is my mother’s birthday. She would be 100 this year and I wish she were here to celebrate with, but in reality I know that can’t be. We all have wonderful memories about our moms, ..... 
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Becky's Food Tales - Summer Smoothies

By Becky Hoff

Mon, Jul 7th, 2014
Posted in All Columnists

Roadside strawberry stands have been springing up in the last week or so- in between the rainstorms, that is! I recently enjoyed driving out into the country with a good neighbor to pick up a load of berries. This was one of those rare sunny days an ..... 
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Real Bites - Supper for Four

Mon, Jul 7th, 2014
Posted in All Columnists

It was a Wednesday night, and dad (that would be me) was in charge of supper until mom arrived home. A fail-safe plan is always to call upon the Village Square of Fountain. They have a 2-2-2 option that includes two medium pizzas with two topp ..... 
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An Experiment in Canning

By Tammy Danielson

Fri, Jun 27th, 2014
Posted in All Columnists

Happy Birthday to Chad Danielson today! It was a quiet Sunday last weekend with my husband and son away at a movie and I had raspberries and jalapenos defrosted and calling my name. My original plan was to do canning with some friends, including ..... 
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