Tricounty News

Get paid to leave corn rows standing

The Minnesota Department of Transportation (Mn/DOT) wants to remind farmers about its standing corn row program that pays participants to leave some rows of cornstalks standing during the winter in problem snowdrift areas along state highways. "Unfortunately, each year there's an average of eight fatalities and nearly 300 injury crashes due to drifting snow on highways," says Dan Gullickson, Mn/DOT's living snow fence coordinator. The cornstalks will serve as snow fences, which are capable of capturing nearly 12,000 tons of snow, helping to improve driver visibility and decrease the potential for ice to form on the pavement. "We're going to pay farmers $1.50 more than the per bushel rate for corn," says Lt. Gov. /Commissioner of Transportation Carol Molnau. "We're willing to invest these dollars in order to make the roads safer for the traveling public." Mn/DOT asks that farmers leave a band of eight or more corn rows standing with the first row starting approximately 150 feet from the state right-of-way line. To be most effective, the corn rows should also average one-quarter-mile long in length. Farmers need to contact the Mn/DOT office in their area to sign up for this program before corn rows are left. For more information about the standing corn row program, visit the Mn/DOT Web site at www.livingsnowfence.dot.state.mn.us or contact Randy Reznicek at (320) 255-4177 Gary Wyatt is a natural resource management educator with the University of Minnesota Extension Service Regional Center, Mankato.