Jim Lahn, Fergus Falls Daily Journal
David Lindig enjoys working with his cows and managing the hay fields and pasture on his farm near the Orwell Lake just southwest of Fergus Falls, and his management choices for his sloping fields also help protect the prime fish habitat in the nearby Otter Tail River.
As a result of his conservation efforts, Lindig’s farm is now certified as protecting Minnesota’s water quality in Minnesota’s Ag Water Quality Certification Program (MAWQCP). Across the state, more than 480 farming operations of all types are now certified as protecting water quality in this unique, three-year-old Minnesota program. The ranks of Minnesota’s Water Quality Certified farms include small farms as well as large farming operations and represent a diversity of crop and livestock production — including corn, soybeans, wheat, potatoes, small grain, hay, pasture, cattle, hogs, dairy cows and more.
The Lindig farm is bordered on the east and the south by the Otter Tail River, just downstream from Orwell Lake — a section of the river known for its good fishing. Lindig has chosen to keep his farm in hay production and in pasture, and he utilizes grazing practices that increase forage availability and prevent overgrazing. He plants cover crops of various species when re-establishing hay fields or pasture, and he participates in the NRCS ‘EQIP’ and ‘CSP’ programs which provide incentives for his cover crops and grazing management practices. Lindig also has some areas of his farm in perennial vegetation through the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). Lindig’s pro-active approach to conservation prevents soil erosion and slows water runoff rates, and his farming practices protect the nearby river as well as groundwater.
Lindig strongly believes that it is a necessity to protect and conserve the soil, as well as improve soil health — all of which, in turn, will protect water quality.
“We can’t have clean water without good management of the land,” Lindig said.
Lindig describes his hilly farm which directly adjoins the Otter Tail River as a “fragile piece” of land, and, as such, he has chosen to keep this farm in perennial hay and pasture.
“When we, as farmers, choose to farm with less soil disturbance, the better off we are,” Lindig said. “Our soils will benefit: organic matter levels will increase, soil quality will improve, water infiltration in the soil will increase, and soil erosion and water runoff will be reduced. In this way, we will protect our water.”
Clearly, Lindig recognizes that it is important to protect the land and water for future generations.
With that priority in mind, he keeps learning about soil health practices, various forage crops and cover crops for use on his farm, and he is active in several organizations: the Sustainable Farming Association (SFA), the Land Stewardship Project, Northern Plains Sustainable Agriculture Society, Acres U.S.A., and the Weston A. Price Foundation. Lindig also notes his appreciation of the assistance he’s received from Penny Doty, NRCS District Conservationist at the Fergus Falls USDA Service Center.
Minnesota farm operations of all types are eligible to be involved in the Minnesota Ag Water Quality Certification Program.
“This Water Quality Certification Program is a great way for farm operators and farm owners to demonstrate their stewardship of our water and soil resources and for them to establish a legacy of conservation in the farming operation,” 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