Over the past three years, we have focused on field improvement through tile drainage. While to some people this practice is controversial, we believe it is an important practice to maximize soil health, and reduce overland soil erosion. We only target acres with permission from NRCS, Minnesota DNR, Minnesota BWSR, the Army Corp of
Engineers, and most of all, our county wetland coordinator. In the fields that we have installed drain tile, we have seen significant improvement in crop yield, less overland washing, and far less damage to soil from "mudding" and compaction. A new goal of ours is manage soil nitrogen to exactly what the crop needs to be healthy, to ensure that there is little escape to our rivers and streams.
Over the years we have worked with Todd County SWCD and NRCS to improve our feedlots. We have fenced cattle away from drainage ditches, allowing only flash grazing during safe times of the summer. We have closed all of our open feedlots except one, and that heifer lot has runoff controls. We have controlled manure stacking slabs for all of our our livestock facilities with compost or pack manure. Our corn silage and haylage storage area has all water runoff controlled and diverted to a grass vegetative area. We have storage for one year for liquid manure produced by our dairy cows, so that we can target manure application during appropriate times of the year, to land that is designated for safe application.
We currently are not only enrolled in the Minnesota Ag Water Quality Certification, but also are under contract with NRCS in the Conservation Stewardship Program. There are multiple new conservation practices we are initiating, in addition to the past conservation practices under the prior CSP contract, that are now standard procedure. New practices are:
Twin Eagle Dairy is required under our State Feedlot Permit to maintain and execute a nutrient management plan on all of our farm, plus monitor any additional acres where livestock nutrients may be applied. We routinely target and track livestock nutrients to every field on the farm. Manure is routinely sampled each year to guide us in nutrient management. Fields are soil sampled at a minimum every three years to track phosphorus, potassium, pH, and other micronutrients. Corn stalk nitrate samples are taken each fall to determine if our nitrogen applications are on target. We work with our local agronomist, Marcus Meiners, to scout fields routinely, and provide us with professional expertise on a variety of areas including weed and other pest control, seed selection, and on site observation of any other trends. We also work with Anez Consulting from Willmar, Minnesota, for nutrient management planning and recording. Anez provides advice and oversight of our conservation practices, ensuring that we are meeting the requirements for our state permits, and also our ongoing conservation efforts with our local Todd County SWCD, NRCS, and MPCA.