Minnesota Farmer


On the prairie
November 20, 2012, 8:57 pm
Filed under: Corn, Farm, Minnesota, rain, Soybeans, tillage, weather, wind | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

You never know what will come your way when you read  reader comments.  Since some of my faithful readers are a long ways away, some questions come up that I assume that everyone knows. Shame on me for not explaining earlier.  So here is the question from todays comments.

“Hi Michael, I gather you practice dry farming techniques on your acreage. What is the primary irrigation source for drawing water? Is Southwestern Minnesota normally considered a separate climate zone from the lakes area to the north and east?”

When the Europeans came to this area they left behind the forests and moved into the prairie.  Although the areas to the north and east of us were forested, in our area we are firmly in the prairie, only the riverbanks were forested here.  Because of that we have the deep prairie soils that were built by deep-rooted grasses.  We also are in a bit of a transition area for rainfall.

Average rainfall in this area is 21 to 23 inches, usually enough to grow a good crop of corn, soybeans or most any other crop.  Unless the soils are sandy we usually keep that moisture in place with very little runoff.  Thus there is no need for irrigation on the land we farm.  The few irrigated acres we have in our area draw from a combination of wells and surface water, usually rivers.

Our weather is dictated by wind, the long prairie winds in our area make wind farms one of the new crops harvested in our area.  There are areas near us where you can count over 100 of these large wind energy generators.  The generators don’t have a large footprint so farmers are growing their crops around them.

The winds of this area of Minnesota helped move along the prairie fires that kept trees down and helped grasses compete.  Thus trees only grew where protected by water.  Although we do have some lakes in our area, the lakes region is generally considered to be north of us.

Since we are on the edge of a drier area we do all we can to keep our water when it falls.  Our farmers are considered to be progressive in this area because if we do things wrong mother nature tells us fast.  Many, but not all, farmers in this area use practices that hold plant material from the last years crops on the surface to provide a blanket that protects the soil from large rains and keep the moisture from evaporating.

Any other questions?  Don’t be afraid to ask.

Michael

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