Posts Tagged: row crops

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 »

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 »

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 »

Rolling Our Land To Death

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

I sat in a farmhouse one afternoon last month as a hot wind lifted rich topsoil from surrounding fields. On the drive in, I’d noticed a surprising amount of rill erosion on newly tilled cropland—surprising because recent rains had not been all that intense and the fields were not unusually steep. Out of the blue… Read more »

Why is James E. McWilliams Ignoring the Facts on Sustainable Ag?

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

History Professor James E. McWilliams’ recent doubled-barreled attack on sustainable livestock production and the local food movement in general is so contradictory and full of factual holes, it’s tough to know where to begin to pick it apart. But it must be picked apart, since it has appeared in the New York Times and subsequently… Read more »

Crop Insurance: A Safety Net Becomes a Threat

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

When it comes to the crop insurance sweepstakes, southwest Minnesota farmer Darwyn Bach is a winner. But he concedes that his good fortune presents a quandary, since the way the program is implemented these days creates significant losers: the soil, beginning farmers and Main Street businesses that suffer when the number of families in a… Read more »

Denying the Science, Derailing the Solutions

Posted by & filed under Food and Sustainable Agriculture, Water.

I talked to a Todd County farmer yesterday who uses 100 percent no-till  and other conservation measures to raise his crops. Conserving soil is important to him, and so he’s quite upset at how mobile humus has been on neighboring farms this fall/early winter. “You know that little skiff of snow we got the other… Read more »

Stripping Erosion Control to its Bare Essentials

Posted by & filed under Food and Sustainable Agriculture, Water.

While walking through a knee-high prairie planted on a central Iowa hillside Tuesday, I happened to look down. Trapped amongst all that vegetation was an impressive amount of rich, black glacial soil, the kind that produces record crop yields. And just a few feet away was the source of that soil: a soybean field planted… Read more »