Darwin and Tara Huwe carefully practice conservation as they operate their DT Etc. Dairy Farm, Inc., a few miles southwest of Wolf Lake.
Because of their conservation decisions, the Huwe farms are now water quality certified in the Minnesota Ag Water Quality Certification Program (MAWQCP). The Huwes' farming operation joins over 800 water quality certified farming operations in Minnesota’s unique, five-year old program that recognizes farmers’ efforts to protect the state’s water quality.
For a farming operation to be Water Quality Certified, a system or combination of conservation practices needs to be adopted on the land — conservation practices that are suited for that particular soil type, topography, and type of farming operation. The Huwes have done just that by implementing these conservation practices:
The Huwes' crop rotation includes significant areas of perennial hay that aids in protecting the soil, since these areas area in perennial vegetation for multiple years. This greatly reduces soil erosion by water or wind and prevents soil sediment from leaving their farms. The Huwes also maintain a grassed filter strip along the drainage way on their farmland. This area of vegetation along the water’s edge traps soil sediment and nutrients before they enter the water.
To keep their soil erosion rates low when row crops are grown, Darwin Huwe practices conservation tillage and no-till planting and leaves stalks and stubble from the harvested crop on the soil surface throughout the year. This “crop residue cover” protects the soil — reducing soil erosion and slowing down runoff water.
On the DT Etc. Dairy Farm, proper nutrient management is practiced. Darwin is careful about his fertilizer and livestock manure applications rates, in order to save on input costs and to protect water quality. The Huwes follow University of Minnesota recommendations for their soil sampling strategy and for their applications of nutrients for their corn, hay, and other crops. Livestock manure is properly stored by use of an NRCS-designed manure storage facility.
Proper pest management is also important to protect water quality, and Darwin uses good management steps as he controls weeds and insects on their farms. He rotates modes of action in choices of herbicides, and he does careful scouting and use of University threshold numbers in decisions to use crop protection products.
This system of conservation practices is effective in protecting our water and soil resources, which is a high priority to the Huwes. As Darwin says, “We are the ones who actually live on this land — we certainly don’t want to harm the water and the soil.”
“Darwin and Tara Huwe can be proud of their decisions to protect Minnesota’s water and soil and of receiving their 'Water Quality Certified Farm' sign in late October 2019,’ said Jim Lahn, the program’s area certification specialist, who works with farmers in 11 counties in north central Minnesota. “I appreciate the Huwes' participation in this program — it is an excellent way for farmers to explore use of new conservation practices, and also tell the story of the good things they do to protect water quality.”
Farm operators and owners throughout Minnesota are eligible to be involved in the Minnesota Ag Water Quality Certification Program. Becker County producers interested in learning more can contact the Becker Soil & Water Conservation District office at 218-846-7360 or Jim Lahn, Area Certification Specialist, North Central Minnesota MAWQCP Area, at 218-457-0250.