The Folland Ranch became the first farm to be certified through the Minnesota Ag Water Quality Certification Program. Bethany and Kris Folland, along with their four children, live east of Halma, Minn. (Enterprise Photo by Margie Holmgren)
By Margie Holmgren
The Folland Ranch, owned by Kris and Bethany Folland, Halma, Minn., were honored to be the first farm in Kittson County and the Two Rivers Watershed District to be certified through the Minnesota Ag Water Quality Certification Program (MAWQCP).
According to the program’s brochure, the program is a “voluntary program that helps farmers and landowners do everything they can to keep protecting our state’s streams, rivers and lakes.”
The Folland’s want to protect the water sources in Kittson County, including Lake Bronson, where they receive their drinking water as well as enjoy time as a family on the lake.
The program was brought to Folland’s attention by Kittson Soil and Water Conservation District (KSWCD) staff Jeremy Benson and Jamie Osowski. They explained the benefits in the program stating, it’s good for the farmers to see what they are doing and what maybe needs to be improved upon.
Once the Folland’s were on board, Benson assisted them by going through each of their fields and assessing them using a tool from the Minnesota department of agriculture. They look at tillage, nutrients and pest control.
The size of your farm and crops grown does not matter with this program any farmer can apply. There are currently 541 certified farms in Minnesota representing 335,924 acres. Through the program 1,021 new best management practices have yielded over 55 million pounds of soil saved per year; more than 23 million pounds sediment reduced per year; over 14,000 pounds of phosphorus prevented from entering our waters per year and 49 percent estimated reduction in nitrogen loss.
For farmers like the Follands, they want to make sure they are doing everything they can to protect the land around them as well as use all the tools they can to help with their farm operation.
Topography maps are just one of the newer tools being used. Folland has a binder of all of his fields. “The more tools we have,” Kris explained, “the more options we have.
Kris stated “I think the majority of Kittson County Farmers would meet the qualifications.”
Each field has to have a certain score to meet the qualifications but the Watershed is available to help and look forward to working with more farmers in the area.
“I’d like to thank them for providing farmers with these programs and for all they did to help us get certified with this program,” Kris said.
Overall the process took the Folland’s about 10 hours, the initial application process and then some additional work after Benson assessed all the fields.
For both the Follands and the watershed employees it was an enjoyable experience where they both learned a lot about the program. Kris appreciated the additional information about his fields.
Now that they have been certified they are certified for 10 years. It is their hope through doing this that other farmers will be interested in participating.
“It’s good for our water sources, but it’s also good for profits,” Kris summed up. The more information they have the better they can attend to their fields to help them have better yields. Follands grow corn, soybeans and wheat and raise beef cattle.
If you’d like to learn more about the MAWQCP contact the Kittson Soil and Water Conservation District at 218-843-2619 ext. 3, Monday – Friday 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., as they are eager to assist more farmers achieve this certification.