Sustaining Minnesota’s Beef and Dairy Industries and Environment
A joint project of the MN NRCS and Sustainable Farming Association
The Mission of Keep Cattle in Minnesota is to sustain the beef and dairy industries in Minnesota while protecting our vast environmental resources.
Keep Cattle in Minnesota is targeted toward four main audiences
- Brand-new farmers
- Experienced Farmers who are looking to add or adjust a business enterprise
- Retiring dairy producers
- Farmers seeking to re-integrate livestock into their row crop operations for the purpose of building soil health
Upcoming Keep Cattle in Minnesota Events
Led by SFA Livestock and Grazing Coordinator Kent Solberg and project coordinator Wayne Monsen, a key function of Keep Cattle in Minnesota will be on-farm events where expert producers will teach farmers – new and experienced alike – new ways to launch or enhance their cattle operations.
SFA Keep Cattle in Minnesota Soil Health Webinar Archived Below
A free SFA Keep Cattle in Minnesota webinar was held Nov. 21 and featured soil health experts Michael Lehman and Wendy Taheri of the USDA North Central Agricultural Research Lab in Brookings, S.D. The webinar functions as a bridge to our upcoming Midwest Soil Health Summit, where both Lehman and Taheri are scheduled to present.
- Cover Cropping: A Great Tool for Building Soils That Work – Lehman will consider the invisible world of soil microorganisms, what they do that is helpful to producers, and how cover cropping is one management tool that promotes soil microorganisms and their beneficial activities.
- Understanding the Importance of Diversity in Cropping Systems – Taheri’s presentation will help farmers understand the importance of diversity in their cropping systems and the role cover crops play in creating and maintaining diversity.
The webinar is sponsored by The Pasture Project:
SFA Field Day: 30 Inches of Roots and Soil Health
By Kent Solberg • SFA Livestock & Grazing Specialist
A crowd huddled against the brisk November wind during a Nov. 1 SFA Keep Cattle in Minnesota Field Day in Verndale. They were gathered around a freshly dug trench. All eyes were fixed on the man in the trench.
No, this wasn’t a funeral. The trench was dug to look at what the roots of a complex cover crop mix could do in sandy, compacted soils. Root hairs had penetrated the compaction layer and were going down at least 30 inches – Kent and Linda Solberg had planted the 12 species blend of cover crops on July 3.
As cattle grazed on the covers in the background, Kent; Jeff Duchene, NRCS Grazing Specialist; and James Schroepfer, agronomist with Ag Resources Consulting, Inc., discussed soil health, cover crops and managed grazing with a group of attentive producers from as far away as Bagley and Mountain Lake.
Earlier that afternoon, the group toured cover crops and managed grazing on Larry Heitkamp’s farm near Sebeka. Larry shared his crop rotation, cover cropping, fertility program, and how he integrates grazing dairy heifers to build soil health.
These farm tours were part of SFA’s Keep Cattle In Minnesota (KCIM) program and an MDA Energy and Sustainable Agriculture Grant. Based on evaluations from earlier KCIM events, we learned that there E a strong interest in cover crops and how to integrate livestock into cropping operations, so keep an eye on SFA Connect for future events focused on these topics.
Keep an eye on this page and in SFA Connect (click here to subscribe) for Upcoming Keep Cattle in Minnesota events. Also, attend the Midwest Soil Health Summit, a full conference geared to improve the health of your soil, which is set for Feb. 18-19, 2015.
From NRCS, this video, “The Science of Soil Health: Without Carrot or Stick” is a short interview with Penn State researcher Dr. Sjoerd Duiker that details how dairy farmers in his state are using cover crops to improve their business – without regulations or subsidies. Watch it here.
Other Grazing Groups
For more information about the Crow Wing River Basin Forage Council, contact Jim Chamberlin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about the Grazing Lands Conservation Association, visit the GLCA homepage.
Scenes From Past Events
2014.1.17 KCIM-Moose Lake at Abe Mach’s farm in Sturgeon Lake.
Video from Abe Mach’s Farm:
2013.12.17 KCIM-Redwood Falls at Grant and Dawn Breitkreutz farm.
2013.11.22 KCIM-Wadena at Ivan and Dayle Reinke farm.
In photo below, Ivan Reinke discusses bale grazing and management of his beef operation to participants at the workshop in Ottertail County.
Shifting the focus of agriculture from maximum yields to maximum soil health quality is critical to the sustainability of agriculture in Minnesota, the Upper Midwest, the United States and globally. SFA is committed to continued soil health programming, including programs addressing the integration of cover crops, row crops and livestock grazing. We will continue the pursuit of funding and programs that foster the development of soil health building practices for the long term.