Farm Horizons, April 2015

The other 50 percent

By Lori Brinkman, Assistant Carver County Feedlot Administrator

There’s nothing like a drive in the country on a sunny spring morning.

As I rattle along the gravel road, I note my subject of interest. I slow to the side of the road, put my vehicle in park, turn on my hazard lights, grab my camera, take a few pictures, note my location, and then I drive on until I come to the next field covered in cattle manure and do it all over again.

Such is the life of a feedlot inspector. It’s not glamorous by any means, if you consider the subject to be manure. On the contrary, the subject is cleaner water. The subject is stewardship.

We’ve all been reminded of this in recent weeks, as grassed buffer strips have been the talk of Minnesota following Governor Dayton’s buffer initiative announcement.

While it originally started as a proposal to require a minimum 50-foot buffer on every stream, drainage ditch, and river throughout the state, the details of the proposed legislation are still being determined.

Revised language includes options for alternative water quality conservation plans where a 50-foot buffer will not protect or improve water quality, as well as variable-width buffers.

In spite of these changes, there is broad opposition of the proposal by several farm groups who contend that, “farmers are already very conscientious about the environment and have employed practices into their farming to really respect the environment.”

I would contend that there is room for improvement on many farms through the state.

Land application of manure compliance is improving in Carver County – that needs to be said.

Recent inspections showed 50 percent compliance with setbacks to open tile inlets, ditches, and streams. Complimentary setbacks to already bermed ditches are also being observed.

There are efforts being made, but we need the other 50 percent to be completely effective.

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