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Wadena County farms now water quality certified

Tom Schulz, center, received a MAWQCP Water Quality Certified Sign by, from left, Brian Napstad, BWSR Board Chairman; Matt Wohlman, Deputy Commissioner of Agriculture, MDA; Kathryn Kelly – BWSR Board Member; Rebecca Flood – MPCA Assistant Commissioner; and John Jaschke – BWSR Executive Director. Courtesy photo.1 / 2
Chuck Horsager, center, also received a MAWQCP Water Quality Certified Sign from, left, Jim Lahn, Area Certification Specialist, MAWQCP - North Central Area; and Anne Oldakowski, Assistant Manager, Wadena Soil & Water Conservation District. Courtesy photo.2 / 2

Across Minnesota, more than 480 farming operations of all types are now certified as protecting water quality in Minnesota's three-year old Ag Water Quality Certification Program (MAWQCP).

Two Wadena County forage-based farming operations are included in the ranks of Minnesota's Water Quality Certified farms, which include small farms as well as large farming operations and which represent a diversity of crop and livestock production - including corn, soybeans, wheat, potatoes, small grain, hay, pasture, timber, cattle, hogs, dairy cows and more.

Tom Schulz farms in central Wadena County near Sebeka. Tom's farming operation involves forage production and pasture, and he utilizes rotational grazing practices to improve forage availability and prevent overgrazing. Tom's operation also involves timber farming and agroforestry practices, and he has enrolled some areas of his farms in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP).

Tom is very proactive in addressing any potential concerns related to water quality and soil erosion; his farming practices protect lakes, streams, and groundwater. Along with Tom's stewardship of protecting water and soil resources, he's involved in improving the energy efficiency of his farm. As a result, Tom has participated in the NRCS 'EQIP' program for an energy audit, as well as for other conservation practices, such as a managed grazing system and irrigation conversion. Tom has also done tree plantings through the EQIP and CRP programs.

Very involved in conservation efforts for many years on both the local and State levels, Tom Schulz serves as a Supervisor on the Wadena Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD) Board, and he continues to serve on the Minnesota Board of Water & Soil Resources (BWSR). Tom, as well as all others whose farming operations have achieved the status of 'Water Quality Certified', can take pride in their efforts to protect Minnesota's natural resources. As Tom says, "Conservation is a proud tradition on our century farm. I'm pleased that as a conservationist, our farm is meeting the highest standards for water quality and for the wise use of our soil and water resources."

Chuck Horsager's farm is also in central Wadena County near Sebeka. Chuck's farm is in continual hay production and also has 5 acres of tree planting. Since the farm is in perennial vegetation, the water and/or wind erosion rates are extremely low. Water runoff and delivery of any soil or nutrients to streams or lakes is negligible, and the landuse of Chuck's farm also prevents the leaching of nutrients into ground water resources. With this farm in either hay or timber, this vegetation serves as a filter or buffer, protecting any nearby streams or ponds.

Along with the hay production on his farm, Chuck has recently entered into a new venture on his family farm — honey production. In the last few years, his interest in bees and producing honey has grown - he now has 12 colonies of honey bees.

Chuck Horsager is also very involved in public service. He serves as a Wadena County Commissioner, and with that duty he serves as that Board's liaison to the Wadena Soil & Water Conservation District, the Wadena Planning & Zoning Board, and the Wadena County U of M Extension Committee.

Speaking of Minnesota's Ag Water Quality Certification Program (MAWQCP), Chuck says, "I am very supportive of this Water Quality Certification Program and of efforts to protect our natural resources and water quality. I encourage all farm operators and owners to look into this Water Quality Program, to take steps to protect water quality, and to be good stewards of our natural resources."

Farm operators and owners throughout Minnesota are eligible to be involved in the Minnesota Ag Water Quality Certification Program. "This program is an excellent way for farmers to tell the story of the good things they are doing to protect water quality, as well as explore use of new conservation practices," said Jim Lahn, the program's Area Certification Specialist, who works with the program in 11 counties in north central Minnesota. Producers interested in learning more can contact their local Soil & Water Conservation District office or Jim Lahn at the Perham Conservation Office (218) 346-4260 Ext. 122.