38 Local farmers, Watershed District Board members, Scott SWCD Supervisors, Prior Lake City Council members, landowners, and other government staff and officials, came together on January 29 to help celebrate the great water quality achievements of four farmers whose farms were certified into the Lake-Friendly Farm Program.
Farmers upstream of Spring and Prior Lakes have been busy working on clean water solutions for our lakes. Formed in 2013, the Farmer-Led Council has met with experts from the University of Minnesota, Discovery Farms, and regional farming leaders to bring the best solutions and ideas to the Prior Lake-Spring Lake Watershed District (PLSLWD) to improve our lakes.
“Farmland makes up most of the landscape in the upper watershed of our lakes, and farmers are the most important stewards of the land in these areas.” Diane Lynch, PLSLWD District Administrator said.
The Farmer-Led Council has created a local program, the Lake-Friendly Farm Program, that focuses on reducing phosphorus runoff: the #1 nutrient that algae need to grow. The program was created to recognize farmers that are doing an outstanding job managing their farms in a way that protects the water resources in the PLSLWD. With help from Scott SWCD, the program also assists farmers in identifying potential best management practices on their land to help protect our lakes.
“We are very fortunate to have such strong farming leaders and innovators in our watershed and on the Farmer-Led Council,” said Mike Myser, PLSLWD Board President.
Farmer-Led Council members, PLSLWD Board & staff, Scott SWCD Board & staff.
Holding their awards, from left to right are Jim Dubbe, Joe Hentges,
and Paul Krueger. (Tim O’Loughlin not pictured)
Across the four farmers, the certification spreads across 8 different landowner’s farms and 17 individual fields. Certification awards were given to these farmers who are true leaders in the watershed that have gone above and beyond to help protect water quality.
Farmers presented with the Lake-Friendly Farm Certification Awards include Joe Hentges, Jim Dubbe, Paul Krueger, and Tim O’Loughlin for their outstanding contributions to water quality in the Prior Lake-Spring Lake Watershed District.
Diann Korbel, Ag Program Specialist at the Scott SWCD, spoke of how Joe Hentges’ high-residue conservation tillage, and variable rate application of crop nutrients results in low soil and nutrient loss from his fields.
Jim Dubbe’s high-residue conservation tillage, use of alfalfa as a perennial crop, water quality tile inlets, and manure management make his stand out for this award.
Tim O’Loughlin proactively installed a side-inlet on his ditch to stop some channelizing soil erosion. He consistently reduces risk of soil loss by using minimum tillage, and is replacing a conventional tile inlet with a water quality inlet.
Paul Krueger voluntarily installed filter strips long before the MN buffer law was around. He consistently uses alfalfa and winter rye cover crops as part of his rotation which leads to low soil losses despite some steeper slopes.
More information about the Lake-Friendly Farm Program and other Farmer-Led Council programs can be found on the PLSLWD’s website at www.plslwd.org/flc.