Thursday, 28 March 2013

Perennial agriculture' to be explained

AUSTIN — Flood mitigation and watershed are ongoing issues in southern Minnesota, especially in Austin and surrounding communities with the presence of the Cedar River.

The Jay C. Hormel Nature Center in Austin will host a presentation on the subject Monday night in the Ruby Rupner Auditorium.The event, "A Watershed Approach to Fewer Floods, More Productive Farms, Cleaner Water, and More Wildlife," will start at 7 p.m. and is free and open to the public. The presentation will feature author and nature photographer Larry Stone and environmentalist Bob Watson. The two will present an approach known as perennial agriculture.

"It's about trying to keep soil on the land where it's born," said nature center conservationist Larry Dolphin. "The more buffers there are, the less prone they are as far as moving the soil."

Perennial agriculture re-creates the complex "sponge" of vegetation that historically absorbs and holds rainwater on and in the land, reducing the use of levees, dams, and other structures. The simple change could help municipalities protect their pocketbooks as well as the environment.

"We put a lot of money into infrastructure to protect lakes and streams," Dolphin said, adding perennial agriculture could also cut down on clean-up costs after a flood. "It's a different approach. Don't get me wrong, it's an approach that's being done."

The presentation will illustrate the benefits of perennial agriculture, and incentives that could be used to get farmers to use the system of more sustainable crops.

"We're always trying to speed things up. Perennial ag is a way of slowing things down," said Dolphin. "We're hoping to get the farmers there. Most of what's done in Mower County is not (perennial ag)."

Stone and Watson are both from Iowa. Stone has written five books and his work has appeared in many conservation magazines. Watson works in the wastewater industry for Iowa and surrounding states, and is a member of the Iowa Water Environment Association, an organization committed to public education and the advancement of water quality and pollution control.
Original Article Here

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