Governor Proposes Ground Water Protection Plan

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Postby brntrout » Wed Mar 07, 2018 9:50 am

Governor Dayton Proposes Groundwater Protection Measure to Reduce Elevated Nitrate Levels in Drinking Water

If the plan is successful it should also reduce nitrate levels in rivers,streams and lakes as well. Check out the links below to better understand the plan.

http://mn.gov/gov-stat/pdf/2018_Nitrate_Map.pdf

http://mn.gov/gov-stat/pdf/2018_Nitrate_Map.pdf

http://mn.gov/gov-stat/audio/2018_03_06 ... _Avail.mp3
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Postby S.T.Fanatic » Thu Mar 08, 2018 8:38 am

So I listened to this yesterday. Im not sure there would be much benefit to what is being proposed in a large portion of the driftless. A large portion of the farms where the nitrates are coming from are dairy farms. Fall and winter manure applications are a must.
“What more delightful avocation than to take a piece of land and by cautious experimentation to prove how it works. What more substantial service to conservation than to practice it on one's own land?” Aldo Leopold
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Postby brntrout » Thu Mar 08, 2018 9:45 am

S.T.Fanatic wrote:So I listened to this yesterday. Im not sure there would be much benefit to what is being proposed in a large portion of the driftless. A large portion of the farms where the nitrates are coming from are dairy farms. Fall and winter manure applications are a must.


You have a good point about fall and winter application. After all at some point the farmer runs out of manure storage space and has to do something to get rid of it. Dairy farms spread it when ever their storage system is full. Unfortunately, late fall & winter is the manure application time frame that causes most the nitrate problems.
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Postby S.T.Fanatic » Thu Mar 08, 2018 11:52 am

brntrout wrote:
S.T.Fanatic wrote:So I listened to this yesterday. Im not sure there would be much benefit to what is being proposed in a large portion of the driftless. A large portion of the farms where the nitrates are coming from are dairy farms. Fall and winter manure applications are a must.


You have a good point about fall and winter application. After all at some point the farmer runs out of manure storage space and has to do something to get rid of it. Dairy farms spread it when ever their storage system is full. Unfortunately, late fall & winter is the manure application time frame that causes most the nitrate problems.



Storage space can be an issue but the fact of the matter is manure isnt going to be applied to the corn fields until after they are harvested. In the case of a dairy farm harvest will usually be around the 10th of September.

Some farmers use cover crops such as winter rye or triticale on their harvested fields. If manure application and chisel plowing happens in a timely manner their is ample time for the covers mentioned to germinate and benefit the following years crop, scavenge any left over N that is in the ground and also nutrients that are in the manure. The increased use of cover crops would greatly reduce N leaching into the WATER TABLE. But like I mentioned the covers need to be planted in a timely manner so there is adequate time for them to grow and do their job. There is not time in the case of combined beans and corn for covers to grow (in the fall).

As far as fertilizer (in this case were talking about manure) entering trout streams due to runoff from snow melt and spring rains I dont see it as an application or timing issue whatsoever. The biggest problem we have is it being contained within the fields. The CCC made tremendous strides in the area of soil and water conservation by building many dykes and helping farmers come up with conservation practices like contour farming. Lets face it that was over 80 years ago. If you have time just go on google earth and hit the timeline feature. There are high resolution B&W images from the early 90's. Take a good look at them then fast forward to today and see how land use practices have changed. Contour farming was common in the driftless at that time but for the most part has gone by the wayside partly because of the STATE MANDATED ethanol in our gasoline.

What we have on the landscape now is many diversion dykes that are broken or just plain full of collected top soil from doing their job for many years. The structures (for the most part) are in place they just need maintenance. The contours are all mapped off and have been for MANY years. If the government can mandate a 50' buffer it sure as hell can put stipulations on contour strips being used where there is rolling terrain. If you want it to happen overnight just put stipulations that say in order to receive their subsidies they need to be at least working towards compliance.

The issues mentioned above is the biggest reason I have so many problems with spending money on easements and HI work. I feel it would go much further in benefiting trout in the driftless if it were spent in areas mentioned above.
“What more delightful avocation than to take a piece of land and by cautious experimentation to prove how it works. What more substantial service to conservation than to practice it on one's own land?” Aldo Leopold
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Postby mcktrout » Thu Mar 08, 2018 2:05 pm

S.T. thanks for the post ... I learned a lot.

Do the practices you mention cost more out of pocket to the farmer? More time/labor costs?

I can see long term benefits to soil conservation and containing pollutants, but are there other benefits to those practices?

I guess I am trying to understand why farmers don't use better practices now and what may motivate them to change.
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Postby brntrout » Thu Mar 08, 2018 2:46 pm

mcktrout wrote:I guess I am trying to understand why farmers don't use better practices now and what may motivate them to change.


I'm guessing, it boils down to the cost to benefit ratio. If it didn't why wouldn't we see all these soil conservation measures fixed or restored, instead of being plowed up or left in a deteriorating state. Just pond dikes alone that are washed out, or the pond itself filled in with sediment is pretty wide spread in SE MN. Evidently, cost sharing funding from the government isn't enough for farmers to justify fixing these problems it appears? If that isn't the problem I don't understand what the reason is, for not restoring these types of soil conservation structures?
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Postby S.T.Fanatic » Thu Mar 08, 2018 3:01 pm

I would have to say that it would take more time to use contour farming practices but how much more i cant say. Would it be cost prohibitive? No. Larger equipment comes into play but to a lesser degree. A big square field is faster to plant and harvest than multiple strips of the same acreage.

Dont get me wrong some farmers are doing a good job at farming on the contours, others terrible, and some have modified their contours to somewhere in between.

If we want to get into crop farmers (I believe mostly what the sound bite was about) fertilizer costs could greatly be reduced if they would use proper crop rotations. Legumes (Beans and alfalfa would be the common ones in local agriculture) take N out of the air (which i believe is around 70%) and "fix" it into the soil. Grasses like corn and cereal grains such as oats, wheat, rye, and so forth are heavy N consumers and take it out of the soil. It use to be much more common practice that you would plant beans one year and then corn the next to feed off of the free N that was fixed into the soil by the beans. This still takes place today but not even close to the scale it once did.

Unfortunately farming today is mostly just a numbers game. Depending on market values, seed, and fertilizer costs many farmers plant the same crop many years in a row if it make more financial sense. Like most things it isn't always cut and dry. Some years it is strictly weather driven. If we have a really wet spring like we had last year and farmers aren't able to get into the fields to plant you will see more beans on the landscape because they require a shorter growing season.

Weather and planting time is always an issue and lets face it there are a lot less farm owners today than there were in the past with the same amount of acreage if not more because of the somewhat recent high grain prices. Farming is much like anything else where timing is extremely important. There are yield calculators that can be used to see how much money a crop farmer looses every day past the "perfect" planting time.

Motivating change is difficult. There are better practices out there (the use of cover crops that I touched on briefly and notill planting as a couple examples) Sometime change takes a leap of faith and most people are not going to do that when they have only know one way of doing it their entire life. For them its a if it aint broke dont fix it mentality. Change can also be extremely expensive and the markets over the past few years haven't been great.

Taxes can have a great impact on it as well. If the government didn't punish businesses through taxation farmers would be able to keep the money they make in good years to carry them through the bad. Now they are dependent on a bank for that and recently that has become difficult for some.

Many of the thing I have mentioned can be found on youtube. Ray Archeletta is a good source for info. Do a search for Ray the soil guy and you will find more videos than you have time to watch. My work is slow in the winter months and I spend tons of time on the computer. I have started to put into place many of his practices on a small scale with my Food Plots that I plant for the deer. If any of you are gardeners out there I strongly recommend you watch them.
“What more delightful avocation than to take a piece of land and by cautious experimentation to prove how it works. What more substantial service to conservation than to practice it on one's own land?” Aldo Leopold
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Postby S.T.Fanatic » Thu Mar 08, 2018 3:02 pm

Tom hit the nail on the head with his first sentence. It took me quite a while to type my post. I love these topics and could talk about them all day.

ADDED: The benefit would have to be in the farmers bank account to make them do it not a benefit of having less sediment in the trout streams.
“What more delightful avocation than to take a piece of land and by cautious experimentation to prove how it works. What more substantial service to conservation than to practice it on one's own land?” Aldo Leopold
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Postby brntrout » Thu Mar 08, 2018 4:23 pm

When you talk about anybodies business concerning making a living, if your not making money, your out of business! With most people its money first and everything else is in second place. Kind of hard to survive in today's world without having enough money.

Normally, you won't find most people totally willing to foot the bill for "exstensive conservation" measures without some kind of meaningful pay back in profit, unless they have so much money they don't care about taking a loss, or their looking for some kind of tax write off.

S.T. Fanatic, I like your longer winded post, very interesting and mostly informative as well.
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