Fall is one of the busiest times of the year at the district. Between construction projects, events, tours, winter prep and more, the staff keep busy promoting conservation throughout the county! Here are just a few highlights from our fall season:
Outdoor Education Days
The Scott SWCD gathered nearly 1,200 3-5 grade students for field trips from September 23-26 for our annual Outdoor Education Days at CEdar Lake Farm Regional Park. There, students rotated between six different environmental education stations, including lessons on conservation, soils, ponds, forestry, water, wildlife, and a recycling performance by CLIMB Theatre!
The conservation station debuted its second year with focus on water protection during the winter months. And the water station—where students walked through the water cycle as a water droplet—was a huge success with the help of staff volunteers from the Prior Lake Spring Lake Watershed District. The Scott SWCD hosts this initiative every year as a showcase to the importance of getting kids outside. We wants to give students just a small snapshot of the amazing things going on in the world around them. Everyone at our office is continually impressed by the student’s passion and curiosity.
Scott SWCD and WMO Fall Conservation Tour
On September 24, elected officials and conservation employees boarded a bus for the Annual Scott Watershed Management Organization (WMO) and Soil and Water Conservation District’s (SWCD) Fall Conservation Tour. The tour is held each year to show our elected officials the progress that has been made in conserving natural resources and to discuss the challenges to conservation.
This year the tour focused on soil health, with an emphasis on nutrient management. The SWCD and WMO work extensively with landowners to help promote soil health, and to implement conservation practices on the matter. Cover crops, nutrient management plans, and erosion control are just several of the projects the SWCD and WMO are involved in.
The tour made three stops throughout the county. The first stop a beautifully completed Sand Creek streambank stabilization project which stabilizes over 470 feet of shoreline along the creek, and saves 170 tons of sediment every year from flowing downstream.
The second stop was to local Dairy Farmer’s, Mark Kelhr’s, home where attendees got a viewing of his newly installed nutrient management pit—as well as a visit from his dairy cows! Mark's pit stores up to 300,000 gallons of manure for his farm to spread the right amount at the right time.
And the final stop was to the Scott SWCD’s cover crop test plot in Belle Plaine. The test plot is part of a five year cover crop strategy adopted by the SWCD as a way to measure the benefits of cover crops. The plot will be testing on soil organic matter, infiltration, and crop yields specific to Scott County.
Aerial Seeding of Cover Crops
800 acres of crop land in Scott and Le Sueur County will be well protected against erosion this winter thanks to the Scott Soil and Water Conservation District’s (SWCD) second year of aerial seeding cover crops.
In most corn and soybean operations, crop fields are left bare from late fall, all throughout winter, and into early spring. Fields are therefore left will little protection against erosion. Six farmers in Scott County mitigated this problem by aerial seeding cover crops into their fields on September 23.
The seeding happened at the perfect time, giving a 3-4 week advantage for the cover crops to get growing before the cash crops were harvested. A mix of species were planted to survive the winter, and will start growing again in early spring.
In addition to the 332 acres of cover crops that were aerial seeded in Scott County, producers working with the Scott SWCD have seeded over 1300 acres of cover crops in 2019!