Farmers upstream of Spring and Prior Lakes have been busy working on clean water solutions for our lakes. On January 29, the District’s Farmer-Led Council recognized four local farmers with Lake-Friend Farm Certification Awards for their good farming practices which protect our lakes. Many local partners and community members attended the recognition event to show their support for the farmers.
“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 Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD), the program also assists farmers in identifying potential best management practices on their land to help protect our lakes.
The farmers presented with 2020 Lake-Friendly Farm Certification Awards were Paul Krueger, Jim Dubbe, Joe Hentges and Tim O’Loughlin for their outstanding contributions to water quality in the Prior Lake-Spring Lake Watershed District. 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.
Each farm is unique because each farmer’s land and farming operation is different so their conservation work is specially suited for their farm. Highlights of each farm’s conservation work include:
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 Minnesota 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.
The Lake-Friendly Farm Program was created by the Farmer-Led Council to recognize farmers that are doing an outstanding job of managing their operation in a way that protects the water resources in the Prior Lake-Spring Lake Watershed District. The Farmer-Led Council works to bring the best solutions and ideas to the Watershed District to improve our lakes.