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Money-Saving Energy Options on the Farm

University of Minnesota Extension, Stearns County News
November 11, 2015         
Source:  Dan Martens, Extension Educator
University of Minnesota Extension
Stearns, Benton & Morrison Counties

Money-Saving Energy Options on the Farm
By Dan Martens, University of Minnesota Extension

FOLEY, Minn. (11/6/15) — The Wright County Extension Office issued and invitation recently for livestock and crop farmers in central Minnesota to attend a workshop in Buffalo to find out how to lower their operating costs by using energy efficient technologies designed for farms.

The workshop will be held Thursday, November 19 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Wright County Government Center, 10  2nd Street NW in Buffalo. This event is free and open to the public. Farmers will hear from energy professionals and other farmers about energy efficiency for dairy, swine and other farming operations, and funding opportunities from local utilities and USDA.

Farmers can register for this event online at or call the Wright County Extension Office at 763-682-7394 for registration or more information. This event is hosted by U of M Extension, the Clean Energy Resource Team, and Wright Hennepin Cooperative Electric Association.

Crop Notes

Many farmers talk about corn yields that are 20 to 40 bushels above better yields that might be expected. What do you think MN Ag Statistics will come up with for yields in reports we’ll see near the end of February? Previous bests - Stearns at 166.6 in 2012, Morrison at 159.1 in 2010, and Benton at 154 in 2009. There are some farms in areas with heavier rains where yields were hurt by wet soil conditions. Low grain and milk prices still put a bit of a damper on farm net income. Soybean yields seem good but maybe not as strong comparatively as corn. The small grain crop looked great but losses were significant with adverse harvest conditions.

I thought through the summer that the corn and soybean crop would suffer a lot more from wet soil conditions with rain from May 7 into September. That didn’t appear to be case like it was in 2014. Curious about this I looked at my rain gauge records for the two years, mindful that even in a “rainy” summer, rainfall can be quite variable across the area. “Total” is a cumulative running total.

2014 Total 2015  Total
Jan 1.33  0.16
Feb 1.47 2.80 0.36 0.52
Mar 1.34 4.14 0.20 0.72
Apr 5.57 9.71 0.78 1.5
May 5.97 15.68 5.01 6.51
Jun 6.81 22.49 4.73 11.24
Jly 1.01 23.50 6.96 18.2
Aug 5.13 28.63 2.92 21.12
Sep 1.51 30.14 2.21 23.33

We had more snow prior to spring 2014 and it was cold and slow to thaw and warm up; and then the rain started early and never provided much opportunity to get the crop planted in suitable soil conditions. Most of what was planted was “mudded in.”

The 2015 spring followed a very dry and open winter. It was also on the cool side and slow to warm up, but quite a bit of planting could be done before May rains started. Cold weather and soil caused some emergence problems that reduced plant populations and yields on some fields.  

Along with suitable moisture though the summer, it makes me wonder how much better crops are able to root down, grow up, and yield when tillage and planting work is done on drier soils rather than “mudding” in the crop. I wonder if the soil maintains better structure then, that helps the ground and crops deal better with heavier rains later. This contributes to farmer’s interest in tile drainage.
Dates and Events
Land Rent Meetings
Long Prairie – Thursday, November 19, 9:30 a.m. at Long Prairie City Hall.
Little Falls – Thursday, November 19, 1:30 p.m. at Morrison County Government Center.
Cold Spring – Friday, December 11, 9:30 a.m. at American Legion Post 455.
Foley – Friday, December 11, 1:30 p.m. at Foley City Hall.

Check the U of M Extension website for the schedule of the all 45 rental workshops across the state at:


Daniel Martens
Extension Educator, Ag Production Systems
(320) 968-5077
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