* NCR-SARE Cover Crop Demonstration Project

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Heron Lake Watershed District Cover Crop Demonstration Project

This project works with Jerry and Nancy Ackerman, local landowners and operators, to establish a cover crop demonstration site as a means to distribute new conservation technology to other agriculture producers and the community.
The cover crop demonstration site is directly adjacent to Jackson County Judicial Ditch 3 located in Section 33 of West Heron Lake Township in Jackson County. The cover crop project will address water quality problems by increasing nutrient uptake, reducing erosion, and minimizing nutrient leaching. The cover crop will directly benefit the community and watershed by slowing water and reducing sediment and nutrient runoff before it enters the ditch.
This project location drains to South Heron Lake. The West Fork Des Moines River and Heron Lake Total Maximum Daily Load Report found South Heron Lake to be impaired for phosphorus. This project will decrease phosphorus levels by using vegetation to reduce erosion and nutrient runoff.
This demonstration project will build upon previous work done through different grant foundations including the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program. Our project results will allow farmers within the HLWD and southwest Minnesota to gain knowledge and understanding of cover crops and their ability to be used locally. Data will show farmers that cover crops are a useful management tool for their own farm’s sustainability.
This project will deliver the following: soil samples, coverage data, and water quality monitoring data. Tillage transects, infiltration measurements, plant tissue tests, and soil samples will be taken at the cover crop fields and control fields for comparison in the spring of 2012 and the spring of 2013 to gauge cover crop success.

Evaluation of this project will be done by HLWD staff. Success will be defined as implementation of a cover crop, developing and distributing a newsletter and newspaper articles about the project, and hosting a field day to demonstrate the cover crop project.

RESEARCH
This demonstration project will build upon previous work done through different grant foundations including the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program. Our project results will allow farmers within the HLWD and southwest Minnesota to gain knowledge and understanding of cover crops and their ability to be used locally. Data will show farmers that cover crops are a useful management tool for their own farm’s sustainability.












OUTREACH
Landowners and operators are more receptive to installing water quality improvement practices on their property when they have first-hand information about their effectiveness in the HLWD. The HLWD would host a field day at the demonstration site during the fall of 2012. The HLWD staff would be responsible for field day organization. The resource technician and district administrator would be responsible for drafting a newsletter highlighting the project and informing the public about the field day.


This project will build civic aptitude by improving institutional capacity for water stewardships, encourage collaborative relationships, and create new norms for water management by encouraging citizens to take personal responsibility for the water moving across their property. This project will encourage different choices at a local level that will improve water quality. The HLWD will provide local communities with a sense of ownership in relation to water quality problems and solutions and encourage citizens to lead change rather than act as passive participants.

Cover Crop Demonstration Project Field Day
November 7, 2012

Field Day Information

HLWD handout
 

The Cover Crop Demonstration Project Field Day was held on November 7, 2012 at the Jerry and Nancy Ackermann farm. Jill Sackett, University of Minnesota Extension, provided an explanation and handout about cover crops.
 

Jill's handout
 

Jerry Ackermann and Andy Nesseth provided information regarding the demonstration project and the challenges faced.
 

Andy's handout

Attendees had the opportunity to walk through the fields and see the vegetation that had established.

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Reports:

2012 Cover Crop Demonstration Project Annual Report

2012 Cover Crop Demonstration Project Annual Report Budget

2013 Cover Crop Demonstration Project Final Report

2013 Cover Crop Demonstration Project Final Report Budget