During this time of social distancing, for the health and safety of our customers and staff the door is locked for visitors at this time.
Please conduct any SWCD business you can by email or telephone (320) 634-5327 or 320-634-5143 option #3
Please call to make an appointment by phone or email.
Please understand that staff hours might vary during this time of social distancing.
If you have questions about tree orders you can call the office to talk to Kelly or on his cell at 320-760-3002. We ask that if you have a payment to make then please send it in the mail.
We are working so please try to reach us using these other methods. We want to be able to assist you in the best way that we can at this time.
The Pope SWCD is offering a 10% discount on tree orders done by December 10th, 2019 for spring 2020 delivery. Call our office today at 320-634-5327 and ask for Kelly.
Pope SWCD is working alongside the U of M and Stearns SWCD on studying the benefits of a new crop called Kernza. The study being done at our Rosholt research farm in Westport is to test the amount of nitrate leaching present in perennial crop productions. This spring we started with preparing the site and planted wheat after a corn/soybean rotation. This early fall we were then able to assist in the planting of the Kernza plots. Our office looks forward to what we can learn about Kernza and what this crop will be able to do for not only agriculture but for water quality.
The three goals of the Kernza project are: 1) Test that Kernza and other native seeds are more effective at reducing nitrate leaching than alfalfa and prairie under irrigated and rain-fed conditions by measuring nitrate samples collected from lysimeters. This work is being done by U of M and Pope SWCD staff. 2) Establish Kernza fields within the City of Cold Spring’s DWSMA and near the City of St. cloud’s Water Treatment Plant. These sites will be monitored for leaching and field production by the Stearns SWCD staff. 3) Examine Kernza as a food ingredient (bread, cereal pasta, beer, etc.) and non-food (straw) with MN companies and map local processor capabilities, opportunities, and barriers. Characterize and provide technical information on handling, storage, formulation, and shelf life of Kernza product development concepts. Supply nutritional profiles for food/beverage containing Kernza and conduct sensory analysis. The Agricultural Utilization Research Institute (AURI) will take lead.
Kernza is a domesticated variety of intermediate wheatgrass. This grain is already attracting attention from restaurants, bakeries, and breweries as being a new perennial grain. What is unique about this sod-forming grass is the very deep roots, growing to a depth of 10 feet. With such deep roots the plant is able to capture and use nitrate in the soil that otherwise leach into our groundwater. Excessive nitrate in groundwater can cause health problems and treatment for drinking water can be expensive. For more information please contact our office at 320-634-5143.
On behalf of Pope and Stevens SWCDs, we would like to congratulate Kaley Poegel a 4th grade teacher at Glacial Hills Elementary School. Kaley was nominated by these SWCDs for the Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation District’s Teacher of the Year. Kaley was selected as this year’s recipient. She will be honored in December at the MASWCD Conference on December 9th and by the County on December 17th. Congratulations Kaley for all you do for our area youth and especially your work on teaching them about the environment.
The Pope SWCD would like to congratulate this year’s Outstanding Conservationist, Don and Shari Opdahl. Don is an employee of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (seed, biotech, and noxious weed unit) for the past 28 years. Shari is a retired music teacher of 34 years and most recently worked at Glacial Hills Elementary school.
The Opdahl’s operate an 820 acre corn and soybean farm south of Starbuck, Minnesota. The entire farm is on a 4 year rotation for grid soil sampling. The Opdahl’s have implemented 9 water and sediment control basins starting in 2015.They also installed approximately 20 water quality inlets on the remaining open intakes on their farm. They converted 1 open intake to a rock inlet design. Don and his family have been very supportive of the Pope SWCD and NRCS. They have on at least 2 occasions allowed our office to use their sites for educational program tours.
Don and Shari are very deserving of this recognition as the 2019 Outstanding Conservationists of the Year. They addressed their erosion concerns by implementing structural practices but were receptive and did implement new management to their tillage program. Their entire operation was reviewed under the Minnesota Ag Water Quality Certification program and did meet the criteria for certification once the tillage was adjusted, intakes were closed, and structures were installed. Don is a fourth generation Pope County farmer who hopes to pass this farm off to the fifth generation, his son. These investments Don and Shari have made will have a large impact on the future of the farm. Congrats again to the Don and Shari Opdahl Family on their efforts to improve their land for future generations.
They will be recognized in December at the Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts annual conference in Bloomington, Minnesota and by our County Board. Congratulations to the Opdahl Family on this well deserved recognition.
Emerald Ash Borer is an invasive beetle from Asia that infects and kills all native species of ash trees in North America. The larvae create tunnels under the bark as they feed. As these tunnels accumulate the ash tree begins to show signs of infestation. Once a tree shows symptoms of infestation it usually dies within 1-3 years.
Emerald Ash Borer was first found in North America in Michigan in 2002. Since then it has spread to numerous other states and Canadian provinces including Minnesota. In 2009, it was found in St. Paul and spread through the metro area. By 2016, the beetle had found its way to Duluth and most recently in 2019 it was found in 10 trees in Sauk Centre, MN.
With an estimated 1 billion ash trees throughout the state, emerald ash borer poses a substantial environmental and economic threat. EAB infestations are difficult to identify in the early stages and spread by both natural and artificial means; therefore, quarantines are enacted when an infestation is discovered. A map of the current EAB status can be found at the following website https://mnag.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=63ebb977e2924d27b9ef0787ecedf6e9.
EAB’s active period is from May 1st to September 30th so it is best to avoid any removal or pruning of ash trees during this time. If you must prune or remove ash trees during this time due to health hazards have at least 1” of the outer bark and wood chipped onsite before transporting it to a removal site. It’s also important to not transport firewood to help control the spread of EAB. Landowners can also help control the spread of EAB by looking for systems of infestation.
Symptoms to look for include:
- Canopy thinning – branches will progressively start dying each year after infestation
- Increased woodpecker activity – these birds like to feed on the larvae, particularly downy and hairy woodpeckers
- D-shaped exit holes – the adults leave distinct D-shaped exit holes about 1/8” wide when they emerge from the tree
- Serpentine tunnels/bark splits – the larvae create meandering S-shaped tunnels as they feed on the vascular tissue of the tree which is only visible when the bark is peeled away. These tunnels can cause a split in the bark.
If you suspect one of your trees to have Emerald Ash Borer please call the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s Arrest the Pest hotline at 888-545-6684. Also note the exact location of the tree and take a digital photo if possible. Landowners can also contact the local Pope County Ag Inspector- Barry Bouwman at 320-634-7791 or the Swift County Ag Inspector- Tom Orr at 320-843-4910.
§103F.48 RIPARIAN PROTECTION AND WATER QUALITY PRACTICES
1. COMPLIANCE TRACKING OF ALL PARCELS SUBJECT TO THE BUFFER LAW
All parcels in the county are to be reviewed within a 3‐year timeframe. The SWCD will review all parcels once every 3 years. This will coincide with the new aerial imagery received by the Farm Service Agency. Google Earth may also be utilized or the Counties Pictometry Imagery.
2. RANDOM SPOT CHECKS
Random spot checks will be done in addition to the tracking of all parcels within a 3‐year span. These checks may be conducted via aerial photo review or on‐site review depending on availability of updated aerial photos and the practice that is being checked/access to farms. A combination of both aerial and on‐site review may also be used.
a. The SWCD will conduct 25‐50 parcels on a random spot check each year outside of the scheduled area.
Note: ** There are 4,445 applicable parcels in Pope County.
b. Additionally, the SWCD should review parcels of emphasis more frequently.
No‐till/Conservation tillage or cover crop alternative practice plans
Variable width buffers (i.e. Land O’ Lakes buffer tool, Decision Support Tool)
Other Alternative Practice Plans
Cost‐share funded projects (years 1,5,9 of contract)
Parcels of further emphasis (potential violators)
3. PROCESS TO HANDLE COMPLAINTS
- Pope SWCD will investigate public complaints related to buffer law compliance but documenting the compliant including, location, landowner, potential violation, etc. Pope SWCD will then further investigate the compliant by aerial review, landowner calls, and field site checks.
- If a violation of buffer law non‐compliance is found Pope SWCD will inform the enforcing agency (Pope Land and Resource Management, North Fork Crow River Watershed District or Sauk River Watershed District) and the Board of Water and Soil Resources. A non‐compliance form will be filled out along with a map of the parcel and will be provided to the enforcing entity for follow up with the landowner.
- Appeals will be handled by the regulatory entity with Pope SWCD staff providing technical information regarding the buffer law and the project site as requested.
For more information contact Pope SWCD at 320-634-5327.
Rosholt Research Farm celebrates its 50 year anniversary of existence in May this year. Rosholt Research Farm located near Westport in Pope Country was purchased by Pope, Kandiyohi and Stearns County Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) on May 27, 1968. The motivation to purchase property was to conduct soil and water research.
The 40 acre research farm, now solely owned by Pope SWCD, has the necessary uniform soil type, soil depth, topography and adequate water for irrigation research.
Research at the farm has involved many partners over the years including: USDA-Agricultural Research Service (ARS), University of MN Pope County Extension, US Forest Service, WesMin RC&D, Minnesota Department of Agriculture, University of Minnesota, Prairies Lakes Co-op, and Pope and Stearns County SWCDs.
Nitrogen and water quality research is presently being conducted at Rosholt. The goal is to evaluate the management of nitrogen fertilizers and cover crops in irrigated crop production systems and their impacts on groundwater resources. The objective is to quantify the impact of living mulch (kura clover), cover crop (cereal rye), or no cover crop on nitrate leaching and nitrogen management for irrigated row crops. The project is intended to provide local information to help improve fertilizer management in irrigated row crop production systems.
Data collection for the current research began in 2016 and is designed to be collected through 2020. However, Clean Water funding from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) is only secure through 2018. Pope and Stearns County SWCD’s are currently collecting input on updating Rosholt Research Farm’s long term vision plan. This plan will assist in securing funding to continue the current research project and future research at Rosholt Research Farm.
For more information on the Rosholt Research Farm please visit Pope SWCD’s website at https://popeswcd.org/program/rosholt-research-farm/.
By Dalton Herrboldt, Pope SWCD Intern
Want a way to utilize all that rain water that runs off of your roof and goes out your down spout? A rain barrel is your solution. It is a perfect way to capture soft water and help to reduce runoff. In the event of a rain shower rain washes chemicals, excess fertilizer, and sediment into storm sewers. You can help reduce this through the process of catching rain water in a rain barrel.
Rain water contains no chlorine, lime, or calcium making it perfect for any flowers around the house or potted plants. Being that is has no minerals in it, rain water is perfect for washing your car and will not leave the streaks that are left behind from hard water.
Rain Barrel Facts
- Can save 1300 gallons of water throughout the growing season
- Garden and lawn irrigation accounts for about 40% of residential water use during the summer
- ½ inch of rain on 200 square feet of a roof is enough to fill a 60 gallon rain barrel
- Reduces amount of water you pay for from the municipal for watering gardens and lawns
With a 32 square foot garden it is recommended to use 20 gallons of water per week. If you saved 1300 gallons of water with a rain barrel you would be able to water a 32 square foot garden for 65 weeks.
To maximize your rain water potential you can connect multiple rain water barrels together. Once the first one fills up to the overflow level it will start filling the second one, or you can hook them together from the bottom of the barrel and they will fill up at the same time. There are several different exterior designs for barrels now to match with your house or garage to your liking.
Now is the time to consider purchasing a rain barrel as the gardening season is fast approaching. The cost is $65.00 plus tax and we do have a limited supply available. If you have an interest in collecting rain water and would like to purchase a rain barrel contact the Pope Soil and Water Conservation District at 320-634-5327.
Pope SWCD board and staff attended the Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation District Annual Conference December 4-6 in Bloomington, Minnesota. Pope SWCD nominated Paul and Barb Koubsky as this year’s Outstanding Conservationist for Pope County. They were recognized at the convention during a luncheon on Tuesday, December 6th.
Pope SWCD was also named as the 2016 District of the Year. This award is given to only one SWCD in the state that has shown leadership and has gone above and beyond in its programs and activities.