COME JOIN US TODAY AT NOON!

Vegetable Garden 101 Webinar Today!

Zoom link to join: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81193491958?pwd=UW4wVEJwaGJwdWdPZ0tjbWNoVk8xZz09

Today’s webinar will be recorded and sent to all who signed up to receive the links. The video, along with any supporting documents, will be emailed out after the webinar.

If you have any questions or if you would like to sign up to receive these recordings, email Alina.

See you soon!

REST IN PEACE, BOB

Bob Woerman, Chairman of the Board for the Minnehaha Conservation District, died on February 28, 2021. We are grateful for having had the opportunity to work with him. Peace to Bob’s memory, as well as to his family and friends.

Robert “Bob” Lee Woerman
July 15, 1945 – February 28, 2021

Robert “Dr. Bob” Woerman, 75, Brandon, died Sunday, February 28, 2021, at the Dougherty Hospice Home in Sioux Falls.

Funeral Services will be 11am, Friday, March 5, 2021, at Brandon Lutheran Church, with visitation beginning at 9:30am.  Burial will follow at Brandon Lutheran Cemetery.  Masks are required.  The service will be live streamed at www.brandonlutheran.org. The family also requests that social distancing be respected for their health concerns.

Bob will be deeply missed by his wife, Jan; three daughters, Kristin Lee (Pat) Huxford, Sioux Falls, Kelly Marie Anderson, Sioux Falls, and Kari Jean Woerman, Sioux Falls; two grandchildren, Alexander Holloway, Iwakuni, Japan, and Hunter Brown, Sioux Falls; his siblings, John (Valerie) Woerman, Tekamah, NE, Joan (Dave) Collins, Houston, TX, and Jane (Hector) Sanchez, Lincoln, NE; and several nieces and nephews.

UNDERSTANDING THE CONNECTION: STRESS REDUCTION THROUGH SOIL HEALTH
Barry and Eli Little, Castlewood, SD

“We feel like if we get the moisture that God gave us and leave it where it’s supposed to be, we can get through most any year.” – Barry Little

“I don’t think there’d be room on this farm for me if we weren’t doing what we’re doing right now.” – Eli Little

Eli (left) and Barry Little. Photo courtesy of USDA-NRCS SD.

A South Dakota State University survey recently revealed that farmers and ranchers who used practices to improve soil health, such as no-till, multi-species cover crops, and small grains in rotation, experienced less stress than their conventional agricultural counterparts. The “Understanding the Connection” video series will explore the connection between soil health practices and reduced stress through interviews with some of the survey participants.

This video highlights father and son farmers Barry and Eli Little of Castlewood, SD, who grow corn, soybeans, wheat and oats, and raise beef cows, sheep, hogs, and chickens. The Littles use no-till practices and have added more small grains into their rotation so that they can follow those with cover crops. They also try to integrate livestock onto as many of their acres as they can. With good soil structure that allows water to infiltrate, they are able to plant more of their acres in the wet years, and their farm is less stressed during the dry heat of summer. Every year they are able to reduce their input costs. These advantages help keep their stress levels low and allow them to be confident about their farm’s future.

To learn more about the Little farm, visit https://www.sdsoilhealthcoalition.org/stress-survey-little/.

SOURCE: South Dakota Soil Health Coalition

USDA FSA EXTENDS CRP SIGN-UP

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) has extended the general sign-up for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) until further notice. Included in this extension will be an agency evaluation of the program to ensure that the full acreage cap is utilized due to a current shortfall of four million acres.

Last November, NACD wrote to President Biden’s USDA transition team regarding CRP, expressing concern that the agency was not utilizing all existing authorities to ensure full enrollment of the program. FSA Associate Administrator Steve Peterson has indicated that there is no timeline for when a deadline will be announced or what changes to the program may include as the new administration reviews the program.

Learn more at USDA’s website. For questions, please contact NACD Director of Government Affairs Coleman Garrison at coleman-garrison@nacdnet.org.

YOU ARE INVITED TO BE PART OF A FOCUS GROUP!

USDA Brookings, SD — Virtual Research Updates and Customer Focus Group Meeting — via Zoom.

You are invited to a meeting of the Customer Focus Group of the North Central Agricultural Research Laboratory (NCARL). Because of COVID-19 restrictions, the meeting will be held via Zoom on Monday, February 22 beginning at 11 am. You can join the meeting through this link:
https://www.zoomgov.com/j/1616360703?pwd=REFOOVloRm5nM0o3UUJQZTZxQkVEQT09
or you may Call: 1-669-254-5252, Meeting ID: 161 636 0703, Passcode: 173985.

This meeting is the second of three virtual field day events presenting NCARL research. The link above will connect you to both the scientific presentations and the Customer Focus Group meeting that will follow; you may join any time. If you are able, please attend the remaining virtual field day presentations on February 22 and March 1, from 10-11 am, to hear more about the lab’s research program.

Please click on the pictures below for more information.

DEADLINE APPROACHES:
NACD SEEKS NORTHERN PLAINS REGION REPRESENTATIVE

The deadline to apply for NACD’s Northern Plains Region Representative position is this Friday, Feb. 19!

The Northern Plains Region Representative would provide assistance to the national association’s member conservation districts and NACD Board of Directors to advance conservation, resource development, and to assist in the implementation of the association’s policies related to the Northern Plains (KS, MT, ND, NE, SD) Regions.

The position is a full-time, service-oriented telework position with focus on creating and maintaining relationships and increasing the effectiveness of NACD in supporting conservation districts and their state associations.

Interested applicants should be based in NACD’s Northern Plains and should send a resume, cover letter, and two writing samples to hr@nacdnet.org with the subject line “Northern Plains Region Representative” no later than this Friday, Feb. 19 to receive priority conservation. Learn more at NACD’s Careers webpage.

EDGE OF FIELD PRACTICES IN AGRICULTURE

A whole-farm, collaborative approach to working lands conservation

Science tells us that moving toward a regenerative agriculture system by improving nutrient management and rebuilding soil health in farm fields can deliver dramatic benefits for farmers—and improve environmental outcomes. Research also tells us that focusing our efforts on in-field practices alone is not enough. 

We need to improve conservation opportunities at the edges of the farm fields, too.

A Roadmap for Success

The Nature Conservancy (TNC)Soil and Water Conservation Society (SWCS), and Meridian Institute convened 26 senior leaders from agriculture, the supply chain, civil organizations and former government officials to develop a framework for action, including nine recommendations to accelerate the adoption of edge of field practices. These recommendations are built upon three cross-cutting themes:

  • Invest in science, technology, and data to increase understanding of the effectiveness of practices and provide farmers and conservation professionals with the information necessary to inform EoF practice implementation.
  • Align policies and programs so they work in tandem and amplify corporate supply chain efforts and emerging ecosystem services markets to create watershed-level improvements.
  • Communicate a vision of a more holistic, regenerative U.S. agriculture system to develop a shared appreciation of the importance of edge of field practices among farmers, landowners, and others throughout the value chain.

The Roadmap is a call to action for conservation groups, policy makers, farmers, farm organizations, supply chain companies and other agricultural stakeholders to work collaboratively for a robust and sustainable food system. Find out how you can help by emailing soil@tnc.org.

Edge of Field Practices

Stream running through vegetated banks.

Vegetated Buffer — A vegetated buffer provides a transition zone between the crop field and a water feature. Vegetation in the buffer slows surface runoff, filters pollutants, and reduces erosion. Examples include filter strips, field borders, and riparian buffers. More on vegetated buffers.


Grassy strip running through farm field.

Grassed Waterway — A grassed waterway is an erosion control practice that provides a stabilized flow path for water through a farm field. More on grassed waterways.


Alternating grass bands in a farm field.

Prairie Strips — Prairie strips integrated with or planted at the edge of crop fields reduce nutrient and sediment loss while benefitting birds, pollinators, and other wildlife. More on prairie strips.


A constructed wetland with grass in the foreground.

Constructed Wetland — A constructed wetland is an engineered ecosystem designed to optimize specific wetland characteristics and functions to improve water quality. Constructed wetlands can be designed to treat surface and/or subsurface flows. More about constructed wetlands.


Aerial shot of a grassy area along a creek.

Saturated Buffer — A saturated buffer resembles a traditional buffer, but it is designed to capture and treat water from underground tile drains. As water seeps slowly through the buffer, high organic matter in the soil promotes denitrification. More about saturated buffers.


Aerial view of two-stage ditch.

Two-Stage Ditch — A two-stage ditch is trapezoidal drainage ditch with added floodplain benches that slow water flow and promote sediment and nutrient retention and bank stability. More on two-stage ditches.

Many of the photos on this page came from the Soil and Water Conservation Society’s Conservation Media Library, a multimedia resource for images, videos, factsheets and other resources. The Library is open to all, and the materials can be downloaded and circulated free of charge. SWCS is a close TNC partner in our work to expand the use of edge of field practices on U.S. farmland.  


SOURCE: The Nature Conservancy

NACD HONORS NATIONAL AWARD WINNERS

Today, NACD recognized winners of its national service awards, and two are from South Dakota!

“NACD is pleased to join with our partners to honor the individuals and conservation districts who have made outstanding contributions to the locally-led conservation movement,” NACD President Tim Palmer said.

Richard and Sara Grim of Grim Ranch in Bonesteel, SD, received the award for producers in recognition of their innovative conservation efforts on their family ranch. The staff of the Gregory County Conservation District and their NRCS field office will also receive recognition for exceptional service in conservation planning as exemplified by Richard and Sara’s stewardship. The Grims are both leaders in their community and are helping producers in their region better understand how to safely use burning as a conservation tool.

USDA Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation, Kevin Norton, presented the NACD/NRCS Olin Sims Conservation Leadership Award to Jamie Johnson of Frankfort, SD, for her meticulous work to preserve the 2,300 acres of crop and grassland she farms with her husband, Brian. Both are NACD Soil Health Champions and employ the five principles of soil health on their operation, including implementing cover crops and practicing no-till. Jamie is a leader in her community as the Spink County Conservation District supervisor, as well as director of the South Dakota Soybean Association.

Congratulations to all, from the Minnehaha Conservation District!

THINK SPRING!

Here’s this year’s order form! Please note that the deadline for ordering is March 3, 2021.

LETTER FROM DAVE REUTER, CONSERVATION SPECIALIST
Pheasants Forever Inc and Quails Forever

Purchase with a Purpose – all proceeds from the seed program support their mission of putting more habitat on the ground, youth in the fields, and birds in the air. 

Conservation Partners,

Hope your new year has started off well. I want to express our sincere gratitude for all your efforts to put quality habitat on the ground — benefitting soil health, water quality, pollinators, birds, and all of wildlife.

We are excited to share our 2021 Seed Program with you. This form includes our 2021 pre-designed mixes with current pricing.  Feel free to pass this along to your cooperators in need of seed mixes.

5 items to remember:

  • Please include Pheasants Forever, Inc. and Quail Forever on your county vendor list for our seed program.
  • Mixes are available online at www.pfhabitatstore.com where you can view each mix in the SD seed calculator.
  • We provide custom quotes and mixes. Just send your mix to seed@pheasantsforever.org for a price quote.
  • Conservation Districts are eligible to sign up for our partner program for discounts on seed, online access to customized mixes, order history, invoices, seed tags and more. Let me know if you have any questions.
  • We encourage input on additional mixes that you would like to see on the Habitat Store Website and on our existing pre-designed mixes.

In addition to providing excellent habitat at an affordable price, we strive to provide the best technical assistance and customer experience for our cooperators.

Sincerely,

Dave Reuter, Conservation Specialist

Pheasants Forever, Inc and Quail Forever

phone: Office: 563-327-0060, Cell: 563-590-1908

email: dreuter@pheasantsforever.org

Order Seed: 1-866-914-7373

www.pheasantsforever.orgwww.quailforever.org

www.pfhabitatstore.com

UPCOMING GARDEN WEBINARS!

Join Alina on Thursdays at noon to learn more about different kinds of gardens!

WHAT’S GOING ON ACROSS THE COUNTRY?

Conservation Clips is a weekly collection of articles distributed by NACD that provides members and partners with the latest news in what’s driving conservation. These articles are not indicative of NACD policy and are the opinions of their authors, unless otherwise noted. If you have a relevant submission or need assistance with accessing articles, please contact the NACD Communications Team.

NACD Blog: Pierce CD participates in carbon credit forestry program
01/19/21

The Pierce Conservation District (CD) in Washington is participating in a unique program that will establish urban forestry carbon credits for a county that is home to nearly a million people.

NACD Blog: Minnesota district improves forest management with drone surveillance
01/19/21

The Aitkin County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) is taking to the sky to improve forest management in Minnesota.

NCPP SEEKS INPUT FROM PRODUCERS IN NATIONWIDE SURVEY

NACD is part of the National Conservation Planning Partnership (NCPP), a collaboration of five key national conservation partners working to make conservation planning better for our customers.

“The NCPP is currently relying on input from producers across the country as it continues its effort to reinvigorate conservation planning.

We are asking that you help us distribute this survey to farmers, ranchers, and foresters within your conservation district’s region. The survey will obtain feedback on additional ways to strengthen the value of a conservation plan and to improve the delivery of conservation planning assistance to farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners. Please feel free to circulate this NCPP letter from the NCPP Leadership Team Co-Chair Mike Brown to your planning clients, which describes the goal of the survey and a bit of NCPP’s background.

The survey was developed to expand on the feedback NCPP received in previous employee and client listening sessions in 2018 and 2019. As a result of those sessions, hundreds of suggestions were received and recorded and have been moved forward to improve the conservation planning experience for our valued clients.

The survey will close on Monday, February 15, 2021. All responses will be confidential, and any background information provided will be used for statistical purposes only. Results of this survey will be available in May 2021 on the NCPP website.

As the voice of conservation districts nationwide, we are proud to be part of NCPP’s work in supporting and strengthening our nation’s landowners in protecting our natural resources. Conservation planning is a core of our mission, and we look forward to the work we will accomplish together in increasing productivity and sustainability across our land.

Thank you in advance for taking the time to help share this important survey and for all you do in helping support our conservation mission,

NACD”

SOUTH DAKOTA SOIL HEALTH COALITION RELEASES NEW CHILDREN’S BOOK

The South Dakota Soil Health Coalition (SDSHC) has released a fun, educational, and agriculturally accurate children’s book titled, “The Soil Quilt.” Geared for third graders, “The Soil Quilt” uses the metaphor of a patchwork quilt that layers the planet to explain how a healthy soil covers the landscape.

“SDSHC did a survey with vocational ag teachers and students, and one of the take-aways was that the earlier we start teaching students about soil health, the greater impact it will have,” SDSHC Coordinator Cindy Zenk said. “So we decided to create a book to help children learn about the importance of soil to our lives and our communities. We hope children will learn that what happens in the soil not only produces our food but also creates the diverse landscape we enjoy, strengthens our families, and builds our communities.”

Published by Ag Storytellers, “The Soil Quilt” was written by Amanda Radke of Mitchell, SD, and illustrated by Michelle Weber of Lake Benton, MN. This is Ag Storytellers’ fourth children’s book, with previous titles including “Levi’s Lost Calf,” “Can-Do Cowkids,” and “A Home Run for Peanuts.”

“With their backgrounds in agriculture, Radke and Weber were the perfect team to make this book a reality,” Zenk said. “Amanda’s understanding of rural life helped her write a story that drives home the point that good soil health is about more than just growing food – it’s about growing our families and communities. Michelle’s artistic skills allowed her to bring Amanda’s story to life through fantastic illustrations that highlight the beauty of life in Rural America.”

“The Soil Quilt” is designed to be enjoyed at home and in the classroom. With a glossary of new vocabulary words to study plus a hands-on learning activity, the book is the perfect way to launch discussions about how everyone can play a role in promoting soil health.

“The mission of the SDSHC is to promote improved soil health,” Zenk said. “We hope young readers will enjoy this story and become passionate about the life beneath our feet and the impact it provides.”

The new book is available for purchase on Amazon or by reaching out to the author and illustrator. Radke’s website is www.amandaradke.com and Weber’s is webercustompainting.com. Also visit www.agstorytellers.com to learn more about how Ag Storytellers is promoting agricultural literacy, one book at a time.

For more information about SDSHC, check out www.sdsoilhealthcoalition.org.

###

SDSHC is a producer-led, non-profit, membership organization created to promote soil health through education and research.

Ag Storytellers is a publishing company in South Dakota that works to promote agricultural literacy through accurate, engaging, and vibrant books for kids.

PLEASE TAKE OUR SURVEY

Minnehaha Conservation District is asking farmers or individuals interested in urban agriculture throughout Minnehaha County and the surrounding area to please take this brief survey. Responses will help gain a better understanding of local interest in sustainable agriculture in the hopes of developing assistance programs in the future. For questions, or to find out more, please email Alina Krone-Hedman.

HAPPY NEW YEAR

Wishing you a new year filled with new hope, new joy, and new beginnings!

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

The board and staff of the Minnehaha Conservation District wish all of you a blessed holiday season!

OUR AMAZING GRASSLANDS
Gilbert Family, Buffalo, SD

“I think that’s the big thing about any type of grazing practice, whether you are completely holistic, whether you are doing a two-time-over, whether you’re doing rotational mob grazing, you have to be so aware at all times: What are your grasses doing? What’s happening? What’s the result of this decision?” — Linda Gilbert

The SD Grassland Coalition partnered with the organizations listed below to enhance the Grassland Planner with a release of a short video story each month during 2020 promoting healthy soils, grasslands, and ecosystems.

2020 Grassland Stewardship Communications Project Partners: SD Grassland Coalition, Audubon Dakota, Ducks Unlimited, Partners for Fish and Wildlife, SD Department of Game, Fish and Parks, The Nature Conservancy, Pheasants Forever, SD Soil Health Coalition, South Dakota State University, and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

USDA is an Equal Opportunity Provider, Employer and Lender.

FSA ANNOUNCES UPDATED PAYMENT RATES FOR CRP

On Dec. 9, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) announced updated payment rates for certain Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) practices by increasing the Practice Incentive Payment (PIP) for certain practices from 5% to 20%. Additionally, producers will receive a 10% PIP for water quality practices on land enrolled in CRP’s continuous signup.

NACD has previously pushed to increase these incentive payments, and this increase will get these payments closer to the 50% cap allowed in the 2018 Farm Bill to further incentivize the enrollment of land that has particularly high conservation benefits.

Continuous enrollments are accepted on a rolling basis, while General CRP applications will be accepted between January 4 – February 12, 2021.

To learn more, visit FSA’s website.

A CLOSER LOOK AT EQIP —
One of NRCS’s Most Popular Conservation Programs
By Sara Wyant

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service’s EQIP program has put billions of dollars into the hands of producers to address acute conservation needs. The producers must share in the costs of the program.

From coast to coast, farmers and ranchers have found the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service to be a great place to find cost share funds to implement practices that can protect the soil and improve water quality. And one of the most popular programs has been the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). But as the program has grown in popularity over the years, demand is far outstripping the number of contracts approved.

SOURCE: Ag Week