Vigil is vice president and Northwest Environmental Hydrology leader at ESA, and directs a team toward science-based solutions in watershed management and restoration. Their aim is to provide a comprehensive, integrated approach to complex water and natural resource projects, where input from several disciplines is essential.
I just got back from a trip to Winona, MN, a lovely college town along the Mississippi River. Located in the southeastern part of MN, Winona itself – because it is a river town – does not look like a community influenced by agriculture. But it is.
The effect upon the Gulf of Mexico is, to put it mildly, damaging.
But as always, better farming practices are out there. Along with the grass buffers that have been presented here in previous blogs, no-till farming is for some farmers (and environmentalists) another exciting option.
Dunlay’s land is hilly, and susceptible to erosion. Commenting on the benefits of no-till, Dunlay gets to the point. “It saves a ton,” he says. Dunlay notes he saves on fuel, equipment costs, time and soil.
All while losing nothing in yields, he says.
It is widely known that no-till farming dramatically reduces soil erosion and, because of improved water retention, crops actually require much less watering per acre. This is a terrific benefit for areas that experience less-than-normal rainfall in a given year.
Dunlay says that no-till may not be for every farmer, but it is worth a serious look for many. He has converted all 250 of his acres to the no-till method, and the results speak for themselves.
Already, NOAA offers some OFS capabilities, the complete list of which appears via this link, but HAB monitoring is not yet a part.
Look for that to change and, though the HAB monitoring may have limited impact in area that already does a good job of monitoring bacteria levels such as E.coli (see: Wisconsin Beach Health), the extra involvement from NOAA certainly underscores the tremendously negative impact HAB have in freshwater and saltwater ecosystems alike.
What is all that farm land worth? It is a question farmers may ask themselves, and passers-by of these vast expanses of green space wonder as well. The truth is, depending on where you live — and scores of other considerations — it IS possible to get a pretty good estimate.
For farmers across the USA, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers land value averages by-state, in its 2015 Land Values Summary. Liars can figure, and figures can lie, but for starters these documents and others like them are great tools.