Hendrickson Farms near Menahga now water-quality certified

It's all about good grazing techniques and conservation farming practices, which prevent soil erosion, slow water runoff, and protect surface and ground water.

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Hendrickson Farms near Menahga is now water-quality certified. From left are Jim Lahn, area certification specialist for MAWQCP; Ed Musielewicz, NRCS district conservationist; Tim Hendrickson; Kristine Hendrickson; and Logan Riedel, Becker Soil & Water Conservation District. (Submitted photo)

Tim and Kristine Hendrickson farm near Menahga and enjoy working with their 200 pair cow-calf herd. They also care for the land and water as they manage their pastures and provide forage for their livestock.

Because the Hendricksons’ farming practices protect water and soil resources, their farms are now water-quality certified in the Minnesota Ag Water Quality Certification Program.

Minnesota’s “unique-in-the-nation” conservation program is five years old and now includes 955 Water Quality Certified farming operations, in which producers are recognized for their efforts to protect the state’s water quality. The ranks of these water-quality certified farms include small farms as well as large farming operations and represent a diversity of crop and livestock production.

Along with their recent water quality certification, the Hendricksons were the 2018 Outstanding Conservationists for the Becker Soil & Water Conservation District. And as Kristine explains, their grazing practices have been featured in numerous forums: “In 2015 Tim was part of the National Grazing Lands Convention in Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas and did a presentation on ‘Outwintering Cattle’. He’s been on multiple panels for training sessions on rotational grazing and outwintering. And we’ve held multiple field days with NRCS and Soil and Water Boards.”

The Hendricksons’ good grazing techniques and their conservation farming practices prevent soil erosion and slow water runoff rates, as well as protect surface water and groundwater. Here are some of the Conservation Practices utilized on Tim and Kristine’s farms:


Perennial pasture and hay fields

Many of the Hendrickson’s fields are in perennial vegetation, being utilized as pasture and for hay production. As a result, soil erosion rates (whether by water or wind) are very low, gully erosion is eliminated, water runoff rates are reduced, and soil organic matter levels improve.

Rotational grazing

Their cow-calf herd is rotated frequently between pasture fields, called paddocks or cells. The benefits of rotational grazing are many: forage production is increased; forage stand longevity is improved; and, overgrazing of pasture is prevented -- which also aids in reducing both soil erosion and water runoff rates.

Tim and Kristine involved Jeff Duchene, NRCS grassland conservationist, in the planning and development of their rotational grazing system, and they’ve worked closely with Duchene as they collected clippings of their pasture species -- to determine forage production in the numerous paddocks.

Grassed filter strips and riparian buffers (forested areas)

The Hendricksons maintain these vegetated areas along the creeks on their farms; this perennial vegetation along the water’s edge traps soil sediment and nutrients before they enter the water. Additionally, their rotational grazing program includes a livestock watering system for their cow – calf herd.

Conservation tillage and cover crops

On some of the Hendrickson’s acres, sorghum is harvested for silage, which is followed by a cover crop of rye and triticale. On these acres, they practice spring conservation tillage followed soon by planting the sorghum.

After harvesting the sorghum silage, they lightly incorporate the rye and triticale cover crop, or they no-till drill the cover crop. This combination of stalks and stubble from the harvested crop and cover crops is on the soil surface in the fall, winter, and into spring. This protective blanket on the soil reduces soil erosion and slows down runoff water.

Careful management of fertilizer

Very little commercial fertilizer is applied on the Hendrickson farms. When turkey litter is applied as a source of fertility for their fields, this is done based on university recommendations.

Weed control

Tim and Kristine use mowing to control weeds, rather than applying herbicides.


Conservation programs

The Hendricksons participate in the the Environmental Quality Incentives, Environmental Quality Incentives and Conservation Stewardship Programs, and they have implemented practices which are “wildlife friendly.”

These conservation-minded decisions enable Tim and Kristine Hendrickson’s farms to be Water Quality Certified, because water and soil are protected. Conservation is important to them. As Tim says, “I have always believed if you take care of the land, the land will take care of you.”

“I appreciate Tim and Kristine’s conservation efforts and their participation in this program. They are protecting the water and soil for generations to come,” said Jim Lahn, the program’s area certification specialist, who works with the program in 11 counties in north central Minnesota.

Farm operators and owners throughout Minnesota are eligible to be involved in the Minnesota Ag Water Quality Certification Program. Producers interested in learning more can contact their local Soil & Water Conservation District office or Jim Lahn at (218) 457-0250.

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