Skip to main content

Language of farming

SWCD technicians get 'boots in the ground' training
Lead Summary
, ,
Lori Sorenson

A group of technicians from Soil and Water Conservation Districts in eight different counties toured the Bakken Land and Cattle farm near Beaver Creek Friday afternoon.
The technicians, new to their jobs and many without farming backgrounds, were seeking advice for communicating with farmers about soil and water conservation improvements.
“Farmers are more than willing to share input, we just need to not feel intimidated,” Peter Bakken told them.
Doug Bos of the Rock County Land Management Office facilitated exchange.
“It was an opportunity for those who don’t come from a farming background to learn how to work with livestock producers when helping them with land use practices in the scope of conservation,” Bos said, Monday.
He said the technicians will spend their careers working with farmers but haven’t had exposure to farmers and farm operations.
“I think the Bakkens did a great job helping them understand that the best thing they can do is help farmers navigate the programs and agencies and paperwork,” Bos said.
The goal, Bos said, is successful farming that also support a healthy environment. And the way for this to happen, he said, is through positive relationships between the SWCD technicians and farmers.
During Friday’s tour, Bakken shared the story about his dad, Richard Bakken, who inquired nearly 30 years ago about manure runoff from his livestock feedlots.
“Just like that we had the MPCA down here looking it over and writing a letter to us about our ‘toxic waste’ going into the creek,” Bakken said, remarking that the response turned his dad off to investing in a solution.
“As things went on, it turned pretty well, and it’s nice to not have the brown trail in the white snow going to the creek.”
Through the years, the Bakkens implemented practices ranging from grass waterways and water and sediment basins to soil health practices such as no till, strip till and cover crops.
“We’ve had our share of dealing with government regulations and MPCA,” Bakken said.
“But we’re fortunate to have been able to at least start with our local NRCS and SWCD navigating the waters of regulation and manure management.”
In addition to touring the Bakken farm, the technicians visited a southwest Minnesota dairy operation and a swine confinement setup.
Bakken thanked the technicians for their interest in farming as it relates to their conservation work.
“It’s about developing relationships. Whether I ever see you guys again or not, I hope this is an example of the relationships that we’ve had to get you guys to come to our operation to show you what we do here,” Bakken said.
“We’ve enjoyed doing lots of conservation things over the years, and it affirms that agriculture can coexist with the environment.”
He later said hosting the tour was time well spent.
“This common-sense approach provided a venue for candid conversation and learning with farmers whom these technicians will be helping in their future career as conservationists,” he said Monday.

You must log in to continue reading. Log in or subscribe today.