Harvesting Knowledge and Growth
As summer wraps up, so does my time with the Conservation Corps of MN & IA. These past few months have been a transformative experience, allowing me to immerse myself in the world of conservation farming practices and environmental stewardship. I got my hands dirty this summer monitoring flow rates of streams, sampling water for nitrate concentration, surveying land for CRP, planning grassed waterways, participating in cover crops, working the booth at the county fair, and even planning a soil health field day!
Spending my summer placed with the Dodge SWCD has been such a treat, despite the extreme initial learning curve. When I arrived in Dodge, one of the only counties in Minnesota to not have a stoplight, I learned that 86.1% of county land is used to cultivate crops. Having little experience with agriculture, I felt like a fish out of water.
This feeling was reassured on my second day when I went on a field visit to a farmer’s homestead. He was having issues with the hydraulics of the district’s no-till planting drill. The discussion we had might as well have been in a different language, because I understood almost nothing.
I left that conversation feeling discouraged that I may never understand agriculture terminology and machinery. But, one of the most important things I have learned about the farming community is if you’re willing to learn, they’re willing to teach you.
Communication and education in agriculture is so important for the success of their community. Farmers often refer to only having 40 growing seasons in their lifetime to improve each harvest. Although, when two farmers come together to share what works and what doesn’t, their amount of growing seasons doubles to 80. As more and more farmers collaborate, this number grows exponentially.
Now more than ever is it important for farmers join forces and share their knowledge. With new advancements in technology, a higher frequency of extreme weather events, and changes in the market occurring, open channels of communication create better informed farmers. Sharing new information and conclusions creates a ripple effect throughout the community. Every mindful decision and every small act of conservation contributes to a movement that goes beyond the boundaries of a single farm or field.
Dodge County has left an undeniable mark on my heart and mind. I hope to see this community flourish and play an important role in shaping a more sustainable world. Now that my term of service is over, I still don’t understand everything about the world of agriculture. But thanks to CCMI, I have the resources to continue my education so that maybe one day I will.