Page 2 of 2 Previous

Continued: Anderson: Raising crops and conservation awareness

  • Article by: DENNIS ANDERSON , Star Tribune
  • Last update: September 1, 2013 - 12:52 AM

• Peterson, aided by his two sons, Nathaniel, 27, and Nicholas, 25, uses sophisticated planting, spraying and harvesting equipment, including a $350,000 combine with a $150,000 harvesting head and three tractors, all by John Deere, that he buys new and trades in every year. “I’ve rotated combines like that since the late 1970s,’’ he said. “It cuts my maintenance and overall equipment costs.’’ Each machine can drive itself down mile-long fields, varying its course, year after year, by no more than 3 inches. Similarly, sprayers are computer controlled so fertilizer, pesticides and other chemicals aren’t over-applied. “Everything we do on our combine and tractors is recorded on a computer chip, which we can bring into the house and use to print out color maps showing crop yield variations and other information. Using this, we can vary the amount of fertilizer, for example, that we apply to different parts of the field, depending on its natural fertility and other factors.’’

• Peterson farms sandy loam soil with an organic content of about 1 percent. The best, black “corn belt’’ soil might hold 5 percent organic content, which can provide a significant yield advantage. Peterson averages 140-160 bushels of corn per acre and 45-50 bushels per acre of soybeans. “In the best soils, they’ll get to 200 bushels of corn,’’ he said.

• “I pay attention to conservation when I farm,’’ Peterson said. “It’s not my determining factor. But one of my life goals is not to hurt the soils or the groundwater. I’m constantly asking, ‘How can we get more production out of the land and not hurt the land or water?’ The timely placement, and the depth of placement, of fertilizer is one way. I see these guys putting nitrogen on their fields in the fall and I don’t understand it. Apply it at the right time and it won’t wash away and be in the Gulf of Mexico when you need it.’’

• Peterson has never enrolled an acre in the Conservation Reserve Program because his land is too productive. Instead, by practicing no-till planting, crop spacing and rotation, and by “spoon-feeding’’ fertilizer and other chemicals, his conservation efforts focus on minimizing runoff and saving soil while, he says, not adversely affecting ground and surface water. He proudly points to runoff data being collected on his and 16 other farms by the Minnesota Agricultural Water Resource Center showing his relatively minimal runoff being “the cleanest of all,’’ adding, “In big part, it’s thanks to no-till.’’

• Peterson also practices conservation by leaving a 32-acre woodlot on his property that is surrounded by crops. “It would be very easy to just cut that area and farm straight through the field, but to me that would be an absolute sin,’’ he said.

Upshot: Land and water used and affected by Peterson and his family are in good hands.

 

Editor’s note: Know of a farm Dennis Anderson can visit and write about, focusing on its conservation practices? Write danderson@startribune.com.





 

  • related content

  • John Peterson and his family raise corn and soybeans on 1,600 acres near North Branch, Minn., where he has practiced no-till planting since the 1990s. Technology has radically changed the way he farms, he says, noting that he trades for a new $350,000 combine and three tractors each year to minimize maintenance and other costs.

  • Farmer John Peterson of North Branch, Minn., is a member of Discovery Farms Minnesota, which hosted a community gathering at the Peterson farm Wednesday evening. Discovery Farms Minnesota is a farmer-funded effort to gather scientific data on ways farming affects water quality throughout the state.

  • Ron Schara, host of the “Minnesota Bound’’ TV show and a retired Star Tribune outdoors columnist, told a gathering that balancing farm and wildlife interests is important. A soybean farm group has contracted with Schara to highlight their conservation efforts.

  • Nathaniel “Sonny’’ Peterson on his family’s farm between North Branch and Taylors Falls. The Petersons practice no-till planting, and alternate their soybeans (near background) and corn to conserve soil nutrients and reduce water runoff.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

Click here to send us your hunting or fishing photos – and to see what others are showing off from around the region.

ADVERTISEMENT

Tampa Bay 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Arizona 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Dallas
Philadelphia 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Houston
NY Jets 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Jacksonville 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
San Diego 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Washington 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
St. Louis 11/2/14 3:05 PM
San Francisco
Denver 11/2/14 3:25 PM
New England
Oakland 11/2/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Baltimore 11/2/14 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Indianapolis 11/3/14 7:30 PM
NY Giants
Cleveland 11/6/14 7:25 PM
Cincinnati
Memphis 97 FINAL
Indiana 89
Cleveland 91 4th Qtr 2:45
Chicago 90
Philadelphia 65 3rd Qtr 3:42
Milwaukee 66
Portland 9 1st Qtr 5:50
Sacramento 14
San Antonio 8 1st Qtr 7:18
Phoenix 6
LA Clippers 9:30 PM
LA Lakers
Toronto 4 FINAL
Columbus 1
Los Angeles 2 FINAL
Detroit 5
Anaheim 1 3rd Prd
Dallas 0
Nashville 1 2nd Prd 11:41
Calgary 1
(2) Florida State 42 FINAL
Louisville 31
Troy 10 FINAL
Ga Southern 42
Cincinnati 24 3rd Qtr 11:35
Tulane 7
Tulsa 14 3rd Qtr 10:21
Memphis 20
Air Force 11/1/14 10:30 AM
Army
ULM 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Texas A&M
(19) Oklahoma 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Northwestern 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Iowa
(24) Duke 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Maryland 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
Wisconsin 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
Rice 11/1/14 11:00 AM
FIU
(21) East Carolina 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Temple
UCF 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Connecticut
Boston College 11/1/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
North Carolina 11/1/14 11:30 AM
Miami-Florida
Washington 11/1/14 12:00 PM
Colorado
Central Mich 11/1/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Western Mich 11/1/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Western Ky 11/1/14 2:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
NC State 11/1/14 2:00 PM
Syracuse
Virginia 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Georgia Tech
Purdue 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(17) Nebraska
BYU 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Middle Tennessee
(10) TCU 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(20) West Virginia
Indiana 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(9) Georgia
Georgia State 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Appalachian St
Kentucky 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Kansas 11/1/14 3:00 PM
(12) Baylor
Texas State 11/1/14 3:00 PM
New Mexico St
Houston 11/1/14 3:00 PM
So Florida
USC 11/1/14 3:30 PM
Washington St
Arkansas State 11/1/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
South Alabama 11/1/14 4:00 PM
Louisiana
New Mexico 11/1/14 4:30 PM
UNLV
UAB 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
(4) Auburn 11/1/14 6:00 PM
(7) Ole Miss
Old Dominion 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Colorado State 11/1/14 6:00 PM
San Jose St
Arkansas 11/1/14 6:15 PM
(1) Miss State
Stanford 11/1/14 6:30 PM
(5) Oregon
Tennessee 11/1/14 6:30 PM
So Carolina
Texas 11/1/14 6:30 PM
Texas Tech
Southern Miss 11/1/14 7:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
(6) Notre Dame 11/1/14 7:00 PM
Navy
Oklahoma State 11/1/14 7:00 PM
(11) Kansas State
Illinois 11/1/14 7:00 PM
(13) Ohio State
(14) Arizona 11/1/14 9:30 PM
(25) UCLA
California 11/1/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
San Diego St 11/1/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Wyoming 11/1/14 9:45 PM
Fresno State
(18) Utah 11/1/14 10:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Utah State 11/1/14 10:00 PM
Hawaii
Bowling Green 11/4/14 7:00 PM
Akron
Toledo 11/4/14 7:00 PM
Kent State
Buffalo 11/5/14 7:00 PM
Ohio U
Northern Ill 11/5/14 7:00 PM
Ball State
(22) Clemson 11/6/14 6:30 PM
Wake Forest
Memphis 11/7/14 6:30 PM
Temple
Utah State 11/7/14 7:00 PM
Wyoming
(12) Baylor 11/8/14 2:00 AM
(19) Oklahoma
(11) Kansas State 11/8/14 2:00 AM
(10) TCU
Hamilton 34 1:27
Ottawa 25
Winnipeg 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Toronto 11/2/14 11:00 AM
Montreal
Ottawa 11/7/14 6:00 PM
Toronto
Calgary 11/7/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Montreal 11/8/14 3:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 11/8/14 6:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Should the lake where the albino muskie was caught remain a mystery?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close