Posts Categorized: agriculture

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 »

Grazing, Cover Crops, Climate Change & Resilience

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

The best farming system in the world means little if it isn’t resilient enough to bounce back from all the nastiness nature can toss its way. That’s become painfully clear in recent years as extreme weather events increase in frequency. Two upcoming Land Stewardship Project field days will focus on how diverse farming systems can… Read more »

Making Diversity on the Farm Pay its Own Way

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

Long term sustainability of our soil requires farming systems that can not only keep soil in place, but also help it build its own resiliency. Such systems can’t just work on paper—they need to prove themselves agronomically and financially. And they need to prove it in places like western Minnesota’s Redwood County, a place where… Read more »

Fertilizer, Fishing & Farmer Specht

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

Dan Specht, who was taken from us all too soon last week by a haying accident, was the embodiment of the stewardship farmer. His kind, curious nature—housed in a powerfully-built, bear-like body—was complemented nicely by a passion for the land. And he represented what may be our best bet for balancing food production with a… Read more »

Nitrogen Pollution’s Farm Policy Roots

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

By Adam Warthesen, Land Stewardship Project Talk about ignoring the elephant in the room. When Minnesota environmental officials announced the results of a new major nitrogen pollution study on Thursday, they were surprisingly frank about how bad the problem is, but just as surprisingly hesitant to name a major underlying cause: federal farm policy. Recommend… Read more »

Corn Planting Sends Tremors Through Bee Country

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

Sometimes laboratory science and the reality of what’s happening on the ground intersect in a graphic way. That’s what struck me this morning as I was watching a video shot by Minnesota beekeeper Steve Ellis on May 7. Ellis has documented the die-off of bees on the very day that neighboring fields were planted with… Read more »

How Farmworker Wage Theft Bankrupts our Rural Communities

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

A few years ago LSP organizer Doug Nopar was told of a southeast Minnesota farm operation that was withholding wages from a worker after he had accidentally damaged a door with a skid steer loader. Nopar called the farm owner and let him know this action was quite illegal. The farmer’s response? “You know, I… Read more »

Main Street Vs. Eat Street

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

I’m not sure I would recommend this, but I recently read two books back-to-back that represent the “how” extremes of today’s food system. I started out with The Town That Food Saved: How One Community Found Vitality in Local Food, and, literally within minutes of finishing it, picked up Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food… Read more »