Mississippi River Basin Initiative

Dedicated MRBI funding supported a conversion to hay on highly erodible ground, but this Chisago County farmer’s additional work with NRCS to expand no-till, install fencing also benefits water quality — from the St. Croix River to the Gulf of Mexico

Three people walk into a soybean field
L-R: NRCS District Conservationist Team Lead Deb Hermel, Chisago County farmer Max Gustafson and NRCS videographer Dan Balluff prepare to film a scene in Gustafson’s no-till soybean field July 12, 2021. Drought conditions in 2021 affected crops throughout Minnesota. Gustafson later said the residue helped to conserve moisture. Photo Credits: Ann Wessel, BWSR
Natural Resources Conservation Service website: www.nrcs.usda.gov
Two people stand on a gravel driveway and talk
Hermel and Gustafson discuss some of the conservation practices he’s implemented with EQIP assistance. Gustafson runs about 450 acres of corn, soybeans and hay, and raises beef cattle. He returned to the family farm after a career in the supply chain field.
Corn stubble from the previous year’s crop is visible between rows of soybeans.
No-tilled soybeans grow amid the previous year’s corn stubble in Gustafson’s Chisago County field.
A finger points to a field on a map
Hermel points to one of the fields where Gustafson committed to no-till for three years. Because his farm lies within the Green Lake watershed, water quality improvements he makes here will affect the St. Croix River, Mississippi River and Gulf of Mexico downstream.

Incorporating no-till

NO-TILL ADVICE: Because planter setup is critical, Gustafson suggests finding an experienced mentor. He worked with someone at a co-op who had 20 years of experience and who hosted a field day.

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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.