Mower County SWCD: No-tillage drill finds success in first year

Published 9:03 am Friday, October 12, 2018

By Tim Ruzek

For the Austin Daily Herald

Local conservation groups helped get more prairie, wildflowers and vegetative buffers planted this past year in Mower County thanks to their financial support of new equipment.

Tim Ruzek, Mower SWCD’s water plan and outreach coordinator

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Mower Soil and Water Conservation District earlier this year purchased a no-tillage drill to provide a convenient and feasible option for Mower County landowners to rent this year once the spring planting season began as part of an effort to support clean water and habitat development.

Groups that donated money toward the drill’s purchase included Friends of the Jay C. Hormel Nature, Pheasants Forever of Mower County, Audubon Austin Chapter, and the Austin chapter of the Izaak Walton League. Mower SWCD also contributed funding.

“This drill provides local landowners with a low-cost option to plant prairie, cover crops, pasture and more,” said Justin Hanson, Mower SWCD district manager in a press release. “Without the local groups’ support, we could not have acquired this much-needed equipment.”

Landowners rented the drill for planting vegetative buffer strips along public waterways; Conservation Reserve Program (CRP); and wildflower plantings.

Due to a late spring, Mower SWCD became busy with delivering the drill during the planting season and was not able to get it to everyone in time, Hanson said. A new drill led to increased landowner interest, he said.

The no-tillage drill purchased by the Mower Soil and Water Conservation District. Photo provided

On Wednesday, Oct. 10, Mower SWCD’s no-till drill will be on display at the Izaak Walton Cabin at Austin’s Todd Park during the Ikes’ monthly steak cookout fundraiser, starting at 5:30 p.m.

For $12, attendees will get a grilled steak and more, with proceeds benefiting the chapter’s various programs. Hanson will be there to answer questions about the no-till drill.

No-till aims to leave soil undisturbed as much as possible during the entire season by avoiding any primary or secondary tillage practices, according to the University of Minnesota Extension.

Most no-till planters have residue managers, finger coulters and double-disk openers that move some residue from the row and improve seed-to-soil contact.

Conservation in Mower County experienced another strong year in 2018, following a significant year as well in 2017, Hanson said.

“This is truly the greatest county in Minnesota to be doing conservation work,” Hanson said. “We had many success stories around the county this year, reflecting the conservation ethics here in Mower.”

Mower SWCD staff worked on many of these projects with local staff for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) and Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), all based in the same office complex in Austin.