A couple of years ago a farmer who has been around Benton County a while brought a rock to my office to see what I might be able to find out about it. My goal is to find answers a lot sooner than a couple of years, but I have to admit, I thought a little longer on this one. I didn’t get a name or phone number, so if it’s your rock, you’re welcome to stop by and visit again sometime.
The farmer was curious because it seemed unusually heavy for its size. If I remember correctly, the whole rock was roughly shaped like a small pillow, about a foot square and 2-3 inches thick, fairly smooth on the surface, rounded on the corners and edges, and mostly dark gray in color. I think he said he found it in the field while picking rocks one day. Rocks are a pretty common find on the glacial till soils in Benton County. He wondered whether it was unusual, like a remnant of a meteor or something else interesting. I wondered if it was bulldozed in from northern Minnesota by the glaciers.
Deadline is April 1
Minnesota families who have owned their farms for 100 years or more may apply for the 2014 Century Farms Program. Produced by the Minnesota State Fair in conjunction with the Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation, the Century Farms Program was created to promote agriculture and honor historic family farms in the state. More than 9,700 Minnesota farms have been honored since the program began in 1976.
Family farms are recognized as Century Farms when they meet three requirements. The farm must be: 1) at least 100 years old according to authentic land records; 2) in continuous family ownership for at least 100 years (continuous residence on the farm is not required); and 3) at least 50 acres.
A commemorative certificate signed by State Fair Board of Managers President Al Paulson, Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation President Kevin Paap and Governor Mark Dayton will be awarded to qualifying families, along with an outdoor sign signifying Century Farm status.
The annual Minnesota Extension Drainage Design Workshops will be held in Crookston March 5-6; and in Owatonna on March 18-19. The workshops are a collaborative effort between the University of Minnesota, North Dakota State University, and South Dakota State University Extension.
Along with farmers and tile service providers, it’s good for the general public to note that people working with tile drainage have opportunities for professional training.
The 2-day workshops start at 8 a.m. and end at 5 p.m. on day two. The workshops will focus on planning and design of agricultural tile drainage systems to meet both profitability and environmental objectives. The course content is taught in a hands-on manner with lots of discussion time, working with concepts that are taught.
Each workshop is intended for those interested in a more complete understanding of the planning and design principles and practices for drainage and water table management systems, including: farmers, landowners, consultants, drainage contractors, government staff and water resource managers.
Harff’s Island Lake Angus of Watkins is a new member of the American Angus Association®, reports Bryce Schumann, CEO of the national breed organization headquartered in St. Joseph, Mo.
The American Angus Association, with more than 24,000 active adult and junior members, is the largest beef breed association in the world. Its computerized records include detailed information on more than 17 million registered Angus.
The Association records ancestral information, keeps production records on individual animals, and develops industry-leading selection tools for its members. These programs and services help members select and mate the best animals in their herds to produce quality genetics for the beef cattle industry and quality beef for consumers.
A new report from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) examines challenges to Minnesota pollinator populations and ways to enhance their habitat. The 2013 legislature directed the MDA to propose ways to create and enhance habitat for insect pollinators (bees, flies, wasps, butterflies, and other insects), and to collaborate with other state agencies in preparing a report on pollinators. Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson submitted the report yesterday to state legislative agricultural and natural resources committees. The report outlines a variety of approaches to the creation of a “pollinator bank,” and calls for legislative support for a new University of Minnesota academic position to coordinate statewide pollinator protection activities.
The report notes that many interacting factors affect pollinator populations including pathogens and parasites, pesticides, poor nutrition because of loss of foraging and nesting habitat, fewer beekeepers, changes in land use, and changes in local weather or climate. Honey bee pollination of U.S. crops is valued at $15-18 billion while pollination by native bees is valued at $3 billion.