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Cover Crops: The Hardest Step is the 1st One

The telephone rang late one afternoon in early October. It was a call from a jubilant, if exhausted, dairy farmer who said he’d planted 20 acres of rye the previous night. He said he’d been attending Land Stewardship Project cover crop/soil health events and that despite the pitfalls of harvest, machinery and too much rain,…  Read More

Making Our Farm & Food System Accountable

There is no doubt a wide and abundant array of food is available in this country, but at what price? There is a lot of talk about our industrial system’s ability to make food like Big Macs and Big Gulps as cheap as possible. Nutritious, affordable food for all is critical. The problem is, all…  Read More

Talking Conservation in Our Farm Leases

With a single phrase, we can put conservation to work on rented land. And that would have a major impact from a landscape point of view: more than half the crops in Minnesota and Iowa alone are produced on rented acres, and every one of them could be saving soil, water, habitat and money with…  Read More

A Graphic View of Diversity’s Power

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

Getting at the Root of our Nitrogen Problem

Good things go bad when out of their rightful places. Take farm fertilizer and soil, essential ingredients in the field but all wrong in the 27 percent of Minnesota lakes now too contaminated to drink. Last month’s report from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) blasted corn-and-soybean agriculture as the major source of nitrogen contamination…  Read More