From cover crops, to no-till, to alum-treated bio-logs, Krueger Dairy is continually trying new practices to see how they can incorporate conservation into their dairy operation. Each year the Scott Soil and Water Conservation District chooses a local citizen or organization as Conservation Leader of the Year. They look for someone who is taking initiative to implement conservation practices. The choice was clear this year when Krueger Dairy was chosen.
Paul and Rose Krueger, along with their son Tim and his wife Amy, own and operate Krueger Dairy, an operation with 200 dairy cows near Jordan.
They raise alfalfa, soybeans, and corn, followed by a cover crop of winter rye. Krueger Dairy started using cover crops after Paul Krueger learned about the benefits while he was attending continuing education for his certified crop advisor certification. For the last four years, Krueger Dairy has been making cover crops work for them. They plant winter rye after the corn is harvested for silage in early fall. The rye grows through the fall and goes dormant in the winter. In early spring when many surrounding fields are bare, these fields are covered with rye. The rye is then harvested for forage for the dairy cows, and soybeans are planted. Last fall, they continued to try new cover crops by planting winter wheat after harvesting soybeans. Paul says that “with dairy cows, using cover crops is a no-brainer.” Not only is the soil covered during the winter and early spring and improving soil health, the winter rye is forage for their animals.
Krueger Dairy is also experimenting with no-till. They have taken one field in their usual soybeans, corn, cover crop rotation and for the last three years have been seeding with a no-till drill rented from the Scott SWCD. The yield from this field has been comparable to the tilled fields, so they are satisfied with the results so far, and are considering using the no-till method on more fields if they continue to have good results.
In 2017, Krueger Dairy installed water quality inlets and alum-treated bio-logs around tile inlets, with materials provided by the Prior Lake Spring Lake Watershed District’s (PLSLWD) Farmer Led Council. The water quality inlets filter debris out of the water. The bio-logs slow down the water allowing particulates drop out, and the alum in the logs hold onto the soluble phosphorus. Both practices result in cleaner water entering the tile lines.
In addition to farming their land, Krueger Dairy also farms rented land. Though this land is rented, the Kruegers have worked to protect its water and soil resources. Krueger Dairy has worked with their landlords, the Scott SWCD, and PLSLWD to install two acres of filter strips on rented land.
Krueger Dairy not only leads by example, they take time out of their busy schedules to be leaders in conservation in their community. Paul Krueger has taken a leading role in the PLSLWD’s Farmer Led Council on which he currently serves. The Farmer Led Council is a group of local farmers who develop and guide the implementation of strategies that PLSLWD uses to help lower the amount of nutrients that agriculture is contributing to the watershed. For example, the Farmer Led Council purchased alum-treated bio-logs and water quality inlets for farmers within the watershed to use. Paul is also a former member of the Scott SWCD Board of Supervisors. Both of these activities show his commitment to conservation by illustrating that he not only cares about how conservation can work for him, but how he can bring conservation to other in his community.
Krueger Dairy is an example of passing down conservation from one generation to the next. Paul’s son Tim has taken a leadership role in Krueger Dairy and continues to work towards the goal of conservation that Paul began, and is instilling a conservation ethic in his son and daughters.
Krueger Dairy was nominated for the Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation (MASWCD) Districts’ Outstanding Conservationist Award. They were recognized at the MASWCD’s Annual Convention on Dec. 5th along with other Outstanding Conservationist nominees from throughout the state.