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.
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.
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
Free Beginning Grazier Handbook
SFA compiled our Beginning Grazier Handbook as part of the Keep Cattle in Minnesota Project, with support from the Minnesota Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Pasture Project. Click here to download.
Our most recent Keep Cattle in Minnesota webinar was April 3, 2015, and featured Dr. Shannon Osbourne of ARS in Brookings, S.D.
Dr. Osborne is a Research Agronomist with the US Dept of Agricultural-Agricultural Research Service whose research focuses on understanding how soil and crop management options influence the soil environment and how these practices can be developed into production systems that maintain or improve our soil resource conservation and environmental quality, while providing production efficiency.
Dr. Osborne’s presentation focused on the impact of crop diversity, no-till, cover crops and residue removal on soil health properties, including soil physical properties and their interaction with soil biological properties. Specific information will included how crop diversity and cover crops impact soil aggregation, carbon and components of soil organic matter.
Another Keep Cattle in Minnesota webinar is slated for Nov. 6; keep watching this page for details about all upcoming KCIM webinars and programming.
SFA’s Keep Cattle in Minnesota webinars are sponsored by The Pasture Project.
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. 17-18, 2016.
- Download a whitepaper, “Integrated Crop Livestock Systems in the U.S. Corn Belt”, by R. Marc Sulk & Benjamin F. Tracy of Ohio State University.
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 SFA’s Networking Group, the Crow Wing River Basin Forage Council, click here or contact Jim Chamberlin at moc.c1429470273llguh1429470273@nilr1429470273ebmah1429470273cj1429470273.
Scenes From Past Events
SFA Field Day, Nov. 1, 2014: 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, 2014, 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.
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.