Source: Conservation Technology Information Center news release

Nearly 250 farmers, crop advisors, ag retailers, agribusiness leaders, non-profit staffers, government agency representatives and policymakers spent August 12 on an extensive tour of southeastern Minnesota farms to connect with leaders in conservation agriculture. Members of the group represented 20 states, two Canadian provinces, and Washington, DC.

From the cover crops of the Hmong American Farmers Association farm near Hastings to Northfield farmer Dave Legvold’s saturated buffers and the impeccable dairy and manure handling system at Burfeind Dairy Farm near Goodhue, participants in the Conservation Technology Information Center’s (CTIC) eighth annual Conservation in Action Tour got a first-hand look at systems that protect water quality, build soil health and improve farm profitability.

There were stops covering many aspects of southeastern Minnesota farming. Bruce and Brian Peterson of Far-Gaze Farms in Northfield shared insight into their nutrient efficiency and soil health programs. Jim Purfeerst discussed his cover crop interseeding tactics. And Phil Maring described how his farm’s rotational grazing program enhances beef production and water protection in the challenging karst landscape near Kenyon.

One of the hallmarks of CTIC Conservation in Action Tours is the opportunities they create to not only see practical, profitable conservation systems in operation, but to discuss them during bus rides, meals and networking events with a broad range of conservation-oriented people, noted Karen A. Scanlon, executive director of CTIC.

Ellen Gilinsky, senior policy advisor in the Office of Water at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, said, “This tour is fantastic for seeing practices I’ve heard about on the ground, hearing from [producers] themselves about the challenges in implementing nutrient reduction practices and controlling runoff while maintaining yields, and I am really optimistic about the things I’ve heard on the tour and the people I’ve talked to that we are going to make a difference in improving water quality.”

In addition to addresses from state representatives Rod Hamilton and Karen Clark, the group was joined by John Linc Stine, commissioner of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency; John Jaschke, executive director of the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources; Matthew Wohlman, assistant commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture; and Warren Formo, executive director of the Minnesota Agricultural Water Resource Center.

Photos of the tour are available online at http://www.ctic.org/CIATours, and videos of key presentations will be posted in the weeks to come. Tweets from the tour are tagged #CTICTour on Twitter.

Next year’s CTIC Conservation in Action Tour will be held in August in Boise, Idaho.