Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
Brothers Tom and Ed Gregory, along with Tom's wife Donna and son Nick, were recently honored as outstanding conservationists of the year. The Gregorys, who own and operate Mill Creek Dairy near Kimball, were selected by the Stearns County Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD) for the award. The award was presented at the Annual Meeting of the Minnesota Association of Soil & Water Conservation Districts, Dec. 7-9, 2008, in St. Paul. Each year, Minnesota SWCDs recognize individuals and organizations for outstanding accomplishments in implementing conservation practices and improving Minnesota's natural resources. The award program is conducted with support from The Farmer magazine. According to Stearns County SWCD chairperson, Chuck Uphoff, Mill Creek Dairy was recognized for a variety of reasons. Following is a summary of some of the reasons why the Gregorys were chosen: The Gregorys milk 370 cows and farm over 400 acres, with 180 acres under irrigation. In 1997 they corrected a feedlot runoff problem by relocating the dairy operation and eliminating all outside lots. Cattle were fenced out of Mill Creek, and buffer strips were planted along the creek to help restore the stream bank and improve water quality. Along with being recognized as stewards in the Conservation Security Program, the Gregorys have 23 acres enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) planted to native grasses and wildflowers. The CRP cover helps filter runoff and provide habitat for wildlife along Mill Creek. Other conservation practices installed over the years include: contour strips, terraces, a farmstead windbreak, and grassed waterways. The Gregorys follow a nutrient management plan which involves soil testing, manure testing and applying manure and fertilizer within agronomic rates to minimize adverse effects on the environment. They have adopted pest-management practices which utilize crop scouting and economic thresholds to help determine the best methods to control pests. Mulch tillage is used on cropland acres to help reduce soil erosion. "We're really proud of Mill Creek Dairy and what the Gregorys have done for conservation in Stearns County," said Uphoff. "On their farm, they have provided a wonderful example to other landowners by installing many conservation practices over the years to protect and enhance our natural resources."