Posts Tagged: soil erosion

Forever Green: Relaying Resiliency

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

To Matthew Ott, three words could make all the difference as to whether farming systems that protect the soil year-round in Minnesota become a consistent agricultural presence in the state. “For me, the most exciting thing is to be able to use the term, ‘cash cover crops,’ ” says the University of Minnesota graduate student…. Read more »

A Little Dirty History

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

The United Nations-Food and Agriculture Organization has declared 2015 the International Year of Soils. That’s fitting, given how reliant the entire world is on keeping our soil in place, as well as keeping it healthy. But this isn’t exactly new information: years ago I happened upon a 1953 pamphlet called Conquest of the Land Through… Read more »

Crop Insurance: Good Enough for Monsanto-Good Enough for Sustainable Ag

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

From the fact-is-stranger-than-fiction department: In 2007, Monsanto talked the USDA’s Risk Management Agency into giving farmers a discount on crop insurance premiums if they planted the company’s triple-stacked GMO corn. Reportedly, some reviewers of the proposal raised concerns that the premium subsidy would unfairly benefit a single private company. But in the end, the USDA… Read more »

A Graphic View of Diversity’s Power

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

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but a good infographic can be the equivalent of thousands of pounds of soil. That thought occurred to me recently while viewing the cool illustration below. Produced by scientists who are studying the effects of adding some targeted diversity to row-cropped fields in central Iowa, it tells… 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 »

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 »

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 »