Farm Horizons, February 2014

Ericksons named Wright Co. conservationists of the year

By Ryan Gueningsman

Mark and Mary Erickson of French Lake Township were recently named the 2013 recipient of the annual outstanding conservationist award, which is selected by a local Soil and Water Conservation District Board, and awarded by “The Farmer” magazine.

This is an important recognition because it acknowledges the accomplishments and efforts of a local cooperator in the area of soil and water protection and conservation, according to Wright Soil and Water Conservation District Urban Conservation Specialist Dan Nadeau.

The Ericksons operate a 250-head beef operation that includes 305 acres of cropland on which they have grown corn, soybeans, small grain, and alfalfa for more than 30 years.

Mark uses a good example of matching the operation to the land, according to Nadeau. He farms some fairly steep land and a conservation rotation with the proper use of manure is beneficial to the long term health of the soil.

“Mark was also instrumental in getting protective practices applied to land he rents,” Nadeau said in a press release. Recently, Mark added a new barn with two vegetated treatment areas to treat run-off from separate feedlots. A holding area and diversions were also installed to capture the run-off water from the lot and direct it at a reduced rate into the vegetated treatment areas.

“The Ericksons are great examples of farmers with a great conservation ethic,” Nadeau said. “Mark takes a hands-on approach to protecting water and soil quality on both his cropland and with his animals.”

Landowners in Wright County with feedlot or other erosion control needs can call (763) 682-1933 ext. 3 for assistance. They may also stop at the office, which is in the USDA Service Center building, across Wright County Road 34 from Target in Buffalo.

Nadeau said Wright County’s federal partner, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, is also currently taking applications for its cost-share assistance program to help with feedlot and other agricultural erosion issues; the application deadline is mid-February.

“We just need more farmers in the county that do this kind of stuff,” Nadeau said. “We have some that come in, but there is a lot more we can do in the county.”

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