Posts Categorized: agriculture

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 »

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 »