Posts Tagged: cover crops

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 »

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 »

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 »

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 »

Minnesota Farmers: CSP is on for 2013

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

By Adam Warthesen, Land Stewardship Project One of the nation’s most innovative working lands farm conservation initiatives has received a financial reprieve, thanks to the continuing resolution signed by President Barack Obama on Tuesday. The continuing resolution, which was passed by Congress late last week, appropriates funds to federal government agencies through the remainder of… Read more »

Teaming With Soil Microbes (part 2)

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

Talking about the importance of feeding soil microbes is fine. Speaking with your feet is even better. “Take a closer look—anything you tramp down is just carbon in the soil,” quips soil conservationist Jay Fuhrer on a Friday afternoon in early September. As he says this, he’s beckoning some 120 farmers and others to follow… Read more »