Posts By: Brian DeVore, Land Stewardship Project

Snirt: A Stain on the Landscape

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

A drive through Farm Country this winter is a revelatory experience. Revelatory in that the impacts of planting the landscape to monocultures of corn and soybeans and plowing the ground black as soon after harvest as possible are there for all to see. The revealer? All that “snirt” one sees in road ditches across the… Read more »

Prepping Prairie Strips for the Real World

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

Gary Van Ryswyk’s concern for how his farming methods impact the landscape is obvious. A practitioner of a no-till system that avoids disturbing a field’s surface as much as possible, he is particularly focused on keeping soil in place. “None of us who farm want the soil to move—we care,” Van Ryswyk told me one… Read more »

A Disappearing World Beneath Our Feet

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

As Midwestern farm fields take a long winter’s nap, evidence is piling up that even when the temperature’s above freezing, all that soil is basically in a bit of a stupor—so devoid of microbial life that it can’t even produce a decent crop without getting a hit of chemical inputs. The latest proof of this… Read more »

Gov. Dayton: This is Farmland, Not Fracland

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

By Bob Christie NOTE: Land Stewardship Project members and staff met with Governor Mark Dayton about frac sand mining issues on Dec. 4 in Winona, Minn. The meeting began with Bob Christie of Utica, Minn., sharing his perspective as a lifelong farmer on why frac sand mining is wrong for southeast Minnesota. Gov. Dayton was… Read more »

Healthy Farms, Healthy Frogs, Healthy Land

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

While walking a piece of North Dakota landscape under a withering summer sun, one’s thoughts turn to moisture—or rather, the lack of it. So when I and other participants in a soil health tour kicked up signs of cool, shady places while traipsing across a hay field, it seemed like a mirage. Green-and-black leopard frogs… Read more »

Our Nitrogen Pollution Solution? Livestock, Land & People

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

By Jim VanDerPol In October, I told the Minnesota House Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture Finance Committee that we had begun to listen to our farm, an assertion lawmakers heard with some surprise. The occasion was testimony around the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s presentation of its “Nitrogen in Minnesota Surface Waters” report, which showed among… Read more »

Deadline for a Strengthened Sustainable Ag Grants Program Announced

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

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) announced yesterday that it will award up to $250,000 in 2014 for on-farm sustainable agriculture research or demonstration projects. That funding amount is good news: it marks a $150,000 increase from previous years. The Sustainable Agriculture Demonstration Grant Program has supported farming innovations in the state for almost a… Read more »

Agriculture: How Not to Be Tools of Our Tools

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

One recent August day, I stood in a field in North Dakota watching soil being spaded up and listening to farmers talk about the optimal cover crop seeding mixes, how long to mob graze a paddock and which no-till equipment does the best job of cutting through last year’s plant residue. It was 90 degrees… Read more »

Purebreds, Pluggers & Profitable Soil

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

On a recent August evening in south-central North Dakota, soil scientist Kristine Nichols laid out what I like to call the “purebred vs. the plugger” approach to farming. “With healthy soil, you may not out-yield your neighbor in the best years, but you will out perform them in the not-so-good years,” said Nichols, a soil… Read more »

Flash Flood? Flash Drought? Time for a Little Slow Soil

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

The U.S Drought Monitor released its latest figures yesterday, verifying what we already knew: Minnesota is extremely dry. In fact, 55 percent of our state now falls under the “severe drought” or “moderate drought” category. Over 60 percent Minnesota’s subsoil moisture is “short” or “very short.” The National Drought Mitigation Center reported that in August… Read more »