Minnesota farmers in the Red River Valley who are interested in learning more about improving soil health are invited to participate in a “rolling classroom” tour of three Minnesota and North Dakota farms where agronomy practices enhance healthy soils.
The bus tour, sponsored by Red River Valley soil and water conservation districts and the Natural Resources Conservation Service, takes place July 24-26.
Kristin Brennan, NRCS assistant state soil health scientist, says more farmers are interested in learning about cover crops and reduced tillage.
“A farmer was in the Becker County SWCD office who recently took over all of his dad’s acres,” Brennan says. “He said, ‘I have to do something different or I’ll go broke in two years.’ There’s this realization that change is needed in the conventional systems and traditional way of doing things for farms to remain profitable and viable into the future. But, many farmers lack the knowledge or confidence to take that leap. Our goal with this tour is to provide an opportunity for local farmers to learn and network with one another, to brainstorm ideas with local technical specialists, and to learn from other farmers who are having success.”
The bus tour begins at 8 a.m. July 24 in Detroit Lakes and travels to the Olson farm near Hawley, Minn., to learn about no-till and cover crops. The same day includes a stop at the Wilson farm near Jamestown, N.D., and Black Leg Ranch near McKenzie, N.D. The Wilson farm was the 2018 Leopold Conservation Award winner and has been a long-time no-till operation. Black Leg Ranch practices holistic management on its cow-calf custom-grazing operation.
The second day, July 25, will be spent at the ARS facility in Mandan, N.D., and will focus on classroom instruction on soil health and the carbon cycle. Tour participants travel back to Detroit Lakes on the final day, July 26, returning at noon.
“We hope farmers will see for themselves that soil health is possible, you won’t go broke doing it and that there is something that can work for every operation,” Brennan says. “Plus, farmers will have access to technical specialists and resources from local SWCDs, the NRCS and Extension to help them succeed in their pursuit of soil health.”
University of Minnesota representatives on the tour include soil health specialist Anna Cates and Extension educator Jodi Dejong-Hughes.
The free tour is open to farmers in the 16-county Red River Valley Conservation Service Area.
All meals, transportation and lodging are covered. Sign-up is required as seating is limited to 30 participants.
Interested? Contact the Becker SWCD at 218-846-7360 by June 30 to register.