A new path of innovation and strong stewardship
Minnesota’s farmers are committed to sustainability, environmental protection and animal research and care. Here’s just a few of the important things they’re doing:
Minnesota’s crop farmers have rapidly adopted water conservation methods ranging from drip irrigation to drought-tolerant crops to cover crops. Additionally, implementing measures to improve drainage helps avoid land erosion and run-off of fertilizers. Minnesota’s livestock farmers continue improving methods to benefit water quality and utilize nutrients available from locally produced manure, limiting imports of additional fertilizer. Minnesota has achieved nearly 100% compliance by farmers in installing vegetative buffers to protect water.
Improving soil health
Rotating crops for soil health has long been a practice of Minnesota’s farmers. Crop farmers have a keen interest in soil health and constantly adopting new scientifically proven methods to improve soil health including reduced tillage, rotational grazing of animals, precision application of fertilizer, cover crops and nitrogen management. Alfalfa is a vital part of beef and dairy cow diets, naturally fixating nitrogen from the atmosphere as fertilizer, and serving as a multi-year crop to prevent soil erosion.
Importance of animal care
Minnesota farmers care deeply about the health and well-being of their animals. State of the art technology used in animal facilities helps to prevent disease, regulate climate, ensure animals are getting good food and nutrition, effectively manage animal waste and keep facilities bio-secure. Veterinarians play a major role in modern animal facilities to provide ongoing preventive care and tend to the needs of animals. Regular programming, seminars and information provided from farm organizations and the Extension Service help farmers stay up-to-date on animal care’s best practices and compliance. Technology companies continue to enter the sphere using data to help farmers find sick animals faster than ever before, and prevent animals from getting sick in the first place — while creating the opportunity for fewer veterinary visits, less medicine and shorter supply chains. Minnesota livestock farmers utilize species-specific certification programming to ensure they are up to date on animal husbandry and best management practices.
Developing the future of renewable plastics
Minnesota corn farmers are supporting research at the University of MN to develop the next generation of bioplastics made from renewable sources. The research aims to replace petroleum with renewable sources like corn to manufacture plastics. By doing so, the environmental impact of plastic, both in its manufacturing and disposal, could be significantly reduced.
Nation-leading bio-diesel policy
Minnesota’s soybean farmers helped shepherd legislation making Minnesota the first state to require B20, or 20 percent biodiesel, to be sold during the summer months. As an alternative fuel to petroleum diesel, it is the only EPA-approved advanced biofuel with the ability to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 50 percent.
Using animal manure in place of synthetic fertilizers
Minnesota’s livestock industry continues to develop and practice precision manure application with nutrient-rich animal manure, which is used as a natural fertilizer for crops, reducing the need for synthetic fertilizers while building soil health and protecting water quality. Manure is a valuable resource for farmers, with farmers creating nutrient management plans in partnership with agronomists, soil scientists and animal nutritionists.
Embracing greener energy
Minnesota farmers have opened access to massive acres of their land to host wind generators and solar panels to produce green energy for homes, businesses and other users across the entire state, including the Twin Cities. Without this partnership between farmers and energy providers, Minnesota would not have reached the significant levels of renewable energy production that we have attained. Generating energy from animal manure and food waste is another emerging alternative energy developing on the farm. More simple updates like making the switch from high pressure sodium or incandescent lighting to LED lighting results in substantial savings for a farmer’s bottom line and reduces their carbon footprint.