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Home > Protecting Our Lands & Waters > Sustainable Agriculture > The Greenbook > Greenbook 2017 > New Demonstration Grant Projects 2017

New Demonstration Grant Projects 2017

Cropping Systems & Soil

Impact of Two Tillage Types on Yield, Economic Profitability, and Soil Health in Polk County, MN

Grantee: Grant Mehring, Minnesota Wheat Research and Promotion Council
Duration: 3 years
Award Amount: $17,536
County: Polk
Project Objectives:

  1. Our first objective is to determine if the conservation tillage practice called vertical tillage is economically viable compared with the conventional tillage practice of the region that is comprised of cultivation and chisel-plow. We aim to consider tractor passes (fuel and time), yield, and protein/oil to determine which treatment is the most economic.
  2. Our second objective is to quantify soil health improving factors from the two tillage treatments including soil temperature, soil moisture, and soil compaction, visual signs of soil erosion during dry periods of the research, and visual signs of soil water runoff during wet periods of the research.

Using Precision Ag Data to Maximize Economic and Environmental Benefits

Grantee: Tanner Bruse, Pheasants Forever
Duration: 3 years
Award Amount: $25,000
County: Statewide
Project Objectives:

  1. By using precision business planning, we will identify revenue negative acres at the subfield level, to allow farmers to understand alternative land use options to increase their ROI. Previously there has been little consideration of the economic performance of conservation practices in conjunction with a landowner’s willingness to enroll certain acres. We aim to build scenarios whereby producers can evaluate the financial impact of different practices before implementing.
  2. In addition to existing USDA programs, we want to be able to provide an alternative option to farmers. They may be interested in doing something but are not interested in a 10-15 year CRP contract. Alternative working lands options, less restrictive (haying) and shorter contracts, may be lucrative to some producers. This will give guidance to the programmatic approach necessary for an effective new program for MN farmers that increase both economic performance and natural resource benefits.
  3. The anticipated result of this combination is increased profitability through sustainable practices that provide soil, water, energy and wildlife benefits. An unprecedented level of cooperation will be required between production agriculture and conservation groups in showing how we can work together to achieve multiple goals while maintaining, and even enhancing, farmers’ bottom lines.


Economic Feasibility of Spray Foam Insulation in a Hog Finishing Barn

Grantee: Ryan Vandendriessche
Duration: 3 years
Award Amount: $7,909
County: Lyon
Project Objectives:

  1. With the help of this grant, I will insulate my hog barn with closed cell spray foam insulation and test the effects the type of insulation has on propane usage in a hog finishing barn. Traditional batt style insulation will be used as a comparison while determining energy consumption differences.
  2. I will determine the cost effectiveness of each type of insulation by comparing the amount of propane used in each barn. There are two very similar barns in the area insulated with batt style insulation that I will use for an energy consumption comparison. The testing will last for three years and each barn will have similar sized pigs for a similar duration. Also, each barn will have nearly three batches of pigs yearly, so the amount of time spent empty will be very similar.
  3. Through this project, I will demonstrate to other farmers, contractors, and those seeking to build a hog finishing barn in the future whether or not spray foam insulation is worth the added cost. Energy consumption is an important factor in any building project and with hog barns being designed to last longer than in the past, insulation has become a critical decision.

Fruits & Vegetables

Developing an Annual Day-Neutral Strawberry Planting System with Biodegradable Mulches

Grantee: Steve Poppe, University of Minnesota
Duration: 2 years
Award Amount: $23,212.50
Counties: Stevens, McLeod, Hennepin, Otter Tail
Project Objectives:

To support the expansion of extended season annual strawberry production, thereby boosting producer incomes and increasing the supply of locally grown strawberries, this project hopes to achieve the following four objectives:

  1. Determine the performance of biodegradable mulches in an extended season annual strawberry production system.
  2. Improve understanding of the effectiveness of a sustainable mulch between crop rows in an extended season annual strawberry system.
  3. Increase the awareness of the benefits of the extended season annual strawberry system.
  4. Increase awareness among farmers to help them establish extended season annual strawberry systems on their farms.

The objectives of this proposal will build upon the success of our previous grants and fulfilling certain aspects of the AGRI SADG program objectives including farm diversification, input reduction strategies, new marketing opportunities, season extension, conservation and profitability.

In our recent survey of regional farmers, we learned that conferences and field days are the preferred avenue for learning about farming techniques, followed by the internet. Therefore, we plan a multi-pronged approach to education and outreach. The project team and farmer-cooperators will present research findings at local and regional conferences. Our farmer-cooperators will host field days to educate other farmers on the system and provide guidance to those interested in adopting it.

Testing Different Training Systems and Varieties to Improve the Profitability of Gooseberries

Grantee: Andy Cotter, York Farm
3 years
Award Amount: $6,728.66
County: McLeod
Project Objectives:

  1. Determine if gooseberries are an economically viable crop for Minnesota
  2. Find the best varieties and best training systems for gooseberries
  3. Learn which varieties and which baked goods consumers like best

Using Essential Oils to Repel Spotted Wing Drosophila in Blueberries

Grantee: Bev O'Connor, Blueberry Fields of Stillwater
Duration: 2 years
Award Amount: $5,397.10
County: Washington
Project Objectives:

  1. Determine if essential oils, specifically peppermint and lavender, and Jet-Ag can repel spotted wing Drosophila well enough to work as a replacement for insecticides
  2. Determine if essential oils and Jet-Ag influence the flavor of the berries
  3. Determine if essential oils and Jet-Ag are economically viable in field situations


Testing Three Novel Sheep-Specific Pasture Types to Maximize Average Daily Gains in Lambs on Pasture

Grantee: Anna Johnson
Duration: 2 years
Award Amount: $17,898.50
County: Sibley
Project Objectives:

  1. We want to maximize average daily gains (ADGs) in lambs on pasture by testing three novel, sheep specific high quality forage mixes so that time to market will be reduced. Using management intensive grazing, we will compare our existing cool-season perennial pasture to three other pasture mixes. The first will be a diverse annual mix containing over 20 species of legumes, grasses, and forbs, to be grazed from the end of June through July when perennial pastures start to lose quality.
  2. Because we have observed ADGs to drop in the summer heat, likely due to the lignification and subsequent reduction in digestibility of typical cool-season pasture plants, the second mix we will test is a non-lignifying, pasture mix designed based on our observations of sheep preferences. It will include chicory, plantain, alfalfa, white clover, red clover, with small amounts of meadow fescue, festulolium, orchardgrass, and timothy. This will be grazed for the months of July and August.
  3. Because energy is considered the most limiting nutrient for finishing animals on pasture, we will test pasture where the sheep harvest their own grain. Sheep are quite good at harvesting oats without overindulging in grain. A strip of alfalfa mix will be established next to the oat plot in the year prior to the oats to provide protein for a balanced finishing ration.

MDA Contact

Ann Kuzj, Grants Specialist

Ag Marketing & Development Division