Minnesota FFA Convention

The Minnesota FFA Convention will be held virtually April 19-23. The Convention App can be accessed on computers at crowd.cc/mnffa2021 or on mobile devices by downloading the Crowd Compass Attendee Hub App and searching Minnesota FFA. The app includes up-to-date convention information including schedules, workshops, sponsors, presentations and links to sessions.

The nine-student ambassador team to promote agricultural education includes two area students: Natalie Beckendorf from Renville County West and Dante Deppa from Paynesville.

There will be two educational virtual events. “Planting Seeds — Growing Leaders” at 6 p.m. April 20, featuring students, board members and an estate planning expert and “Making a Difference in Agriculture — One Student at a Time” at noon April 22. Hear from students, teachers and business representatives on the impact Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources/FFA programs have on preparing youth for future careers to meet the growing need for agricultural talent.

Farming

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Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program: April 12-30 sign-up period. Applications can be started sooner and landowners are encouraged to do so. It is a voluntary state-federal program designed to improve water quality and habitat with a goal to protect and restore up to 60,000 acres of marginal cropland across 54 southern and western Minnesota counties with native plantings. Landowners simultaneously enroll land in a 14- to 15-year federal Conservation Reserve Program contract and a permanent Reinvest in Minnesota Program conservation easement. Private ownership continues and the land is permanently restored and enhanced for water quality and habitat benefits. For more information, contact your county Soil and Water Conservation District.

Walk-In Access landowner enrollment: Through May 14, sign-ups available at local soil and water conservation district offices. The program pays private landowners to allow public hunting on their lands. It has enrolled land parcels 40 acres or larger with high-quality natural cover. Hunters must purchase a $3 permit with a hunting license to access enrolled land Sept. 1 through May 31. The parcels are marked with highly visible signs posted by Department of Natural Resources staff and hunting laws are enforced by DNR conservation officers. Landowners are not required to purchase additional liability insurance. Lands enrolled in the Walk-In Access program are covered by Minnesota’s recreational use laws, which limit legal liabilities for landowners who permit outdoor recreational activities, as listed in Minnesota State Statute 604A.20. To sign up, contact your local SWCD office or contact Troy Dale, program coordinator for the DNR, at 507-537-6616 or on the website mndnr.gov/walkin.

Conservation practices cost share: The Kandiyohi Soil and Water Conservation District has cost share available for structural and nonstructural conservation practices. Landowners may receive up to 75% cost share on certain practices including pollinator plantings, field windbreaks, well sealings, cover crops, wetland restorations, sediment control structures, rain gardens and more. Call the Kandiyohi SWCD at 320-235-3540, ext. 3.

Cover-crop cost share: Renville County Soil and Water Conservation District and Hawk Creek Watershed Project are offering cost-share for cover crops planted between April 1 and Sept. 15. Up to 75% of costs to plant cover crops (e.g. seed, labor, equipment use, seed incorporation) with a maximum payment of $2,000 per farmer per year with a maximum of three years of cost-share through this program. To qualify for the cost-share program, you must sign a cost-share contract, use a seed mix with at least three different species pre-approved by Renville SWCD, turn in all seed tags, and pass a field inspection by a Renville SWCD employee. For more information, call Ethan Dahl at 320-523-1550, ext. 101, or email ethan.dahl@mn.nacdnet.net.

Pesticide applicator testing: April 20, 8:30 a.m. to noon, Renville County Government Service Center in Olivia, conducted by the Renville County Soil and Water Conservation District. Review the Minnesota Department of Ag website for testing requirements or call Ethan Dahl at 320-523-1550, ext. 101, or by email at ethan.dahl@mn.nacdnet.net with any questions. The website is www.mda.state.mn.us/pesticide-fertilizer/pesticide-applicator-licensing.

Beef Quality Assurance and Secure Beef Supply training: Four workshops to choose from — April 20, May 6 or 18 and June 3 — free, online via Zoom by the University of Minnesota Extension and the Minnesota Beef Council. Advance registration required, codes at mnbeef.org/about-us/upcoming-events. BQA certification is being required by many major industry buyers and processors. It is still voluntary for producers to complete. However, when a producer does not have current BQA certification, the result is that many packers and feedlots simply cannot purchase those cattle because their company cannot source cattle from a producer who does not meet their certification requirements. If unable to attend a scheduled Zoom session, earn free certification online, anytime, at www.BQA.org.

Poultry Health Management School: May 24-25, online, register at PoultryHealthSchool.com. Participants will learn about poultry housing and management in this intensive training course for poultry producers, farm employees and other poultry professionals. Typically, the number of students allowed is limited. However, this year it will be offered to anyone who wishes to participate due to the virtual structure. Fee is $300, each attendee will receive the most recent American Association of Avian Pathologists Avian Disease Manual, an instruction guide and other educational tools. For questions, contact Rebecca Groos at rgroos@minnesotaturkey.com or call 763-682-2171.

Partners in Ag Innovation Conference: July 29, MinnWest Technology Campus, free for ag producers and agribusiness professionals. The MinnWest Technology Campus and the Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission are joining forces to co-host the conference. The theme is “From Survive to Thrive.” We are still emerging from the fast-track of change and unexpected events brought on over the past year but feeling hopeful and ready to emerge on the other side. Through this difficult period, comes a time for transformation and growth. Let us take what we learn from 2020 and learn to not just survive …but thrive. We are prepared to go entirely virtual or hybrid and will keep attendees informed as planning progresses. Even with a virtual format, this year's event will include more interaction and small group discussions. See www.partnersinag.com for a provisional agenda.

Gardening

Community garden plots: Summer plots are available at the High Avenue Gardens, south of the Willmar Community Center. Plots are 10 feet by 15 feet and are $20 each. To reserve a plot, call 320-262-5288.

Peggy Karsten, left, and her grandson Logan Anderson, 4, harvest vegetables together in October 2020 from her plots at the High Avenue Gardens located behind the Willmar Community Center. The pair picked okra, kale, squash, and even some tomatoes.

Erica Dischino / West Central Tribune file photo
Peggy Karsten, left, and her grandson Logan Anderson, 4, harvest vegetables together in October 2020 from her plots at the High Avenue Gardens located behind the Willmar Community Center. The pair picked okra, kale, squash, and even some tomatoes. Erica Dischino / West Central Tribune file photo

Community garden plots: Summer plots are available at the Willmar Avenue Gardens, north of the bus garages. Plots are 11 feet by 16 feet and are $20 each. To reserve a plot, call Mary at 320-212-3471.

Indestructible houseplants for your health and well-being: April 21, noon to 1 p.m., online by the University of Minnesota’s West Central Research and Outreach Center in Morris. Explore the health benefits of indoor gardening, indestructible plants you can add to your indoor environment, and some easy care tips to keep your plants thriving. Extension Educator Robin Trott will answer your questions. This “Come Grow with Us” class is free, but donations are accepted. Advance registration not required. For more information, call 320-589-1711.

Garden exchange: April 21, 4 p.m., Willmar Public Library. Bring extra plants, seeds, pots, bulbs, etc. and swap them for something else. Everyone is welcome, outside the library. Wear a mask.

“Prairie Yard and Garden”: 4 p.m. Saturday, April 17, and 1 p.m. Monday, April 19, on Pioneer PBS. Host Mary Holm visits with Joe Bergeson of Fertile, a rose lover who shares the secrets of success with these beautiful staples of the garden.

“Prairie Yard and Garden”: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 22, and repeats 4 p.m. Saturday, April 24, and 1 p.m. Monday, April 26, on Pioneer PBS. Host Mary Holm visits with Jerry Ford of Living Song Farm as he explains how to grow garlic to spice up your life and how to store and enjoy garlic for year-round flavor.

Outdoors

“Prairie Sportsman”: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 17. Join host Bret Amundson for “Fish and Flora in Pine County.” Go fishing on Grindstone Lake, which reaches depths of 150 feet, and supports both warm and cold water fish species; visit Goose Garden and learn about flora used by Ojibwe tribes for food, medicine and ceremony.

“Prairie Sportsman”: 7:30 p.m. Sunday, April 18, and repeats at 12:30 p.m. Monday, April 19, and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 24. Join host Bret Amundson for “An Inspirational Hike and Dining on Plastic.” Emily Ford of Duluth hikes the Ice Age Trail through Wisconsin to inspire women and people of color to connect with the outdoors. Explore why microplastics are showing up in our water, salt and beer.