Despite setbacks, the Aakres have expanded practices they started with assistance from the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. They’ve added more conservation practices on their own, and have come out ahead in the long run.

NRCS District Conservationist Sharon Lean, center, and Jayson Aakre crumbled topsoil from the Aakres’ Clay County sunflower field on June 30, 2021, as Jon Aakre looked on. The Aakres have worked with Lean to fine-tune cover crop seed mixes. Into sunflowers, they have seeded oats, radishes, berseem clover, red clover and turnips. The Aakres said soil health has improved as a result of cover crops and no-till practices. EQIP assistance from NRCS cut the risk of trying those practices, which they have since expanded. On their own, the Aakres also started strip-tilling. Photo Credit: Ann Wessel, BWSR

Beltrami SWCD’s Clean Water Fund-backed project in Bemidji targets nutrient-impaired Lake Irving, but its benefits extend to Lake Bemidji and beyond. The work will safeguard a source of Twin Cities drinking water, contain the flow in case of an oil spill, beautify a bike trail and increase pollinator habitat.

An iron enhanced sand filter is part of the Beltrami County SWCD’s Clean Water Fund-backed stormwater project designed to improve the water quality of nutrient-impaired Lake Irving, which flows into Lake Bemidji and then the Mississippi River. From left: Zach Gutknecht, Beltrami County SWCD clean water specialist, checked on progress Sept. 9 in Bemidji with Tim Terrill, executive director of the Mississippi Headwaters Board; Shawn Tracy, HR Green lead scientist; and Chad Severts, BWSR board conservationist. Photo Credits: Ann Wessel, BWSR
Large-leaved aster should start blooming soon. It makes a good ground cover, and is among the drought-tolerant native species Minnesota gardeners might consider. Photo Credits: BWSR

After several wet years, most of Minnesota is experiencing severe drought. Many native plants can withstand dry periods due to their deep roots and other adaptations. The following species are among those observed in recent months to withstand drought conditions. Keep in mind that all plants need some water to…

Itasca SWCD and the city of Coleraine take a watershed approach to protect the lake. Collaborators range from Vandyke Elementary fourth-graders to the Mississippi Headwaters Board to community volunteers and the Blandin Foundation.

An angler fishes from a pier July 20 on Trout Lake in Coleraine, where smoke from Canadian wildfires obscured the view. The water lilies in the foreground, seen from the footbridge spanning the point where lake and stormwater pond meet, are a sign that the pond is filled with sediment. Known as an excellent fishery with good water quality, Trout Lake has seen some fish kills and more algae blooms in recent years. Clean Water Fund grant-supported practices will treat about one-third of the 500-acre watershed. Photo Credits: Ann Wessel, BWSR

Within the Sauk River watershed, producers who implement soil health practices could tap an emerging revenue stream, earning credits for improvements that benefit water quality and sequester carbon. For Ben Mergen, it’s an opportunity to increase profitability on his fifth-generation dairy farm.

Ben Mergen checked a 13-acre Farming Township soybean field on June 29 where he planted soybeans into a living oats-winter rye cover crop this spring. A well-timed chemical application later killed the cover crop. Mergen is among the first in the Sauk River watershed to sign up for a pilot project that could lead to receiving payments for carbon credits. Photo Credits: Ann Wessel, BWSR

Working with Dodge SWCD staff and funds available through an NRCS-BWSR partnership, Currier brothers improve water quality, increase their operation’s efficiency with a new manure pit, nutrient management plan tailored to their Mantorville dairy

By late May, the manure storage facility on the Currier brothers’ Mantorville Township dairy farm in Dodge County held seven months’ worth of manure. It’s built for 12 months of storage, with extra capacity in case of emergency. The cow yard slopes to the pit. Jay (left) and Ben Currier previously had one week’s worth of storage. The facility was installed with assistance from the Lower Mississippi River Feedlot Management in Minnesota Regional Conservation Partnership Project, which is funded jointly by the USDA’s NRCS and by BWSR. Photo Credit: Ann Wessel, BWSR

Clean Water Fund grant cuts risk for producers to try soil health practices that benefit Holland and Edgerton’s drinking water supply management areas

Tom Griebel and Laura DeBeer stood in a grassed waterway on March 31 as they discussed his cereal rye cover crop, in the background. A Clean Water Fund grant from BWSR helps to cut the risk of trying soil health practices meant to reduce nitrates. DeBeer, a Pipestone SWCD-based regional water resources specialist, works with landowners within highly vulnerable wellhead protection areas. Photo Credits: Ann Wessel, BWSR

His advice: ‘You’ve just got to try what you think will work with your mind-set, operation, money — and then adjust it as you go.’

March 31: Pipestone County farmer and Farm Bureau member Tom Griebel checked on cereal rye, AKA winter rye, in a field within Lincoln Pipestone Rural Water’s Holland Drinking Water Supply Management Area. A Clean Water Fund grant from BWSR aims to reduce nitrogen-loading here and in other DWSMAs in the county. Grant dollars offset some of the risk for producers who try cover crops or perennial cover. Photo Credits: Ann Wessel, BWSR

Stormwater work off County Road 66 in Crosslake built upon collaboration among SWCD, county, city, Whitefish Area Property Owners Association

In Crosslake, a stormwater retrofit for Island Loon Lake replaced drainage that sent stormwater directly into the lake. The Crow Wing SWCD project involved the county highway department, the city, the Whitefish Area Property Owners Association and the Crosslakers. It drew from Clean Water Funds from BWSR. Photos Courtesy of Crow Wing SWCD

Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources

Our mission is to improve and protect Minnesota’s water and soil resources by working in partnership with local organizations and private landowners.

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