Posts By: Brian DeVore, Land Stewardship Project

Saving Minnesota’s Grasslands: Conservation, Cattle & Community

Posted by & filed under agriculture, Food and Sustainable Agriculture, Land Conservation, Loon Commons blog.

It’s that age-old struggle: accepting a little short-term disturbance in the name of long-term stability. Dave Trauba regularly faces the challenge of explaining that tradeoff to hunters who visit the Lac Qui Parle Wildlife Refuge in western Minnesota only to find their favorite spot for shooting pheasants has recently been grazed by cattle from a… Read more »

First Test of 2013 MN Frac Sand Law is Successful

Posted by & filed under agriculture, Energy, EQB and Environmental Review, Food and Sustainable Agriculture, Global Warming, Health, Land Conservation, Loon Commons blog, oil, rural, Water.

By Johanna Rupprecht, Land Stewardship Project The owner of a controversial Houston County silica sand mine was notified Monday by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) that he must stop mining and apply for a DNR Silica Sand Mining Trout Stream Setback Permit. The Erickson silica sand mine in Houston County’s Yucatan Township is… Read more »

Grazing as a Public Good in Western Minnesota

Posted by & filed under agriculture, Food and Sustainable Agriculture, Land Conservation, Loon Commons blog.

As a Nature Conservancy scientist based in a Midwestern state, Steve Chaplin thinks a lot about the impact agriculture has on ecological treasures such as native tallgrass prairie. “Other than plowing, grazing has probably been responsible for the degradation of more prairie than any other source,” says Chaplin, who is in the Conservancy’s Minnesota field… Read more »

Soil Health: Numbers vs. Knowing

Posted by & filed under agriculture, Food and Sustainable Agriculture, Loon Commons blog, Water.

Sometimes it takes a bit of an evangelist to remind us that praying at the altar of facts and figures can blind one to how they all connect in the bigger picture. In the case of production systems that build soil health, that preacher is Ray Archuleta. “The soil is naked, hungry, thirsty and running… Read more »

Forever Green Receives $1 Million

Posted by & filed under agriculture, Food and Sustainable Agriculture, Loon Commons blog.

The Minnesota Legislature took a major step last week toward supporting the kind of agriculture that can green up our landscape in a way that’s economically viable for farmers. Conference committee negotiations produced $1 million for Forever Green, an innovative University of Minnesota research initiative involving cover crops and perennial plant systems. Funding for this… Read more »

A Graphic View of Diversity’s Power

Posted by & filed under agriculture, Food and Sustainable Agriculture, Loon Commons blog.

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but a good infographic can be the equivalent of thousands of pounds of soil. That thought occurred to me recently while viewing the cool illustration below. Produced by scientists who are studying the effects of adding some targeted diversity to row-cropped fields in central Iowa, it tells… Read more »

Sand, Land & Land Stewardship

Posted by & filed under agriculture, clean air, Clean Energy, clean energy development, clean energy future, Energy, Food and Sustainable Agriculture, Land Conservation, Loon Commons blog.

By Johanna Rupprecht, Land Stewardship Project For longer than I can remember, my family has taken the same route from our farm in southeast Minnesota to visit my grandparents in north-central Wisconsin. The first leg of the four-hour trip takes us across the Mississippi River and through the farmland, pastures and rolling, wooded hills of… Read more »

Forever Green & Highly Efficient Agriculture

Posted by & filed under agriculture, Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment, Food and Sustainable Agriculture, Loon Commons blog, Water.

To understand why the Forever Green Initiative is so important to the future of Minnesota’s landscape, one has to consider this: there is a big difference between agricultural productivity and agricultural efficiency. In states like Minnesota, the spectacular productivity of our corn-soybean system is evident: bin busting yields are the norm. But there’s a lot… Read more »

Cover Crops: Insuring Against Disaster

Posted by & filed under agriculture, Food and Sustainable Agriculture, Loon Commons blog.

Thanks to the recently passed 2014 Farm Bill, federally subsidized crop insurance is an even bigger player in determining what the landscape looks like. That’s troubling, considering that in recent years that impact has been mostly negative, since the program removes most of the risk associated with plowing up acres formerly considered too erosive, wet… Read more »

Cover Crops: Not Just Foul Weather Friends

Posted by & filed under agriculture, Food and Sustainable Agriculture, Loon Commons blog, Water.

Cover crops proved themselves foul weather friends during the Great Drought of 2012. A groundbreaking farmer survey conducted in the Upper Mississippi River watershed showed that during that year’s brutal growing season keeping the soil covered with small grains and other plants helped fields preserve enough precious moisture to provide a yield bump of, in… Read more »