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Family tradition

Contour strips that were laid out on 183 acres in 1944 are still there on Dan and Sherry Hanson’s farm. Dan’s grandfather worked with the Soil and Water Conservation Service back then in developing a conservation plan for the rolling landscape on the family’s Fillmore County farm.

Over the decades, more conservation practices were put into place — grassed terraces and waterways, minimum and no-till. The family planted thousands of trees on Conservation Reserve Program acres for wildlife food. Dan and Sherry keep livestock on their farm and maintain hay in their crop rotation to help with soil health, fertility and erosion control.

Key Points

• Dan and Sherry Hanson named Outstanding Conservationists.

• Their family has practiced conservation since the 1940s.

• A feedlot upgrade channels rainwater around the lot.


For their family’s consistent attention to and care of their natural resources, the Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts chose the Hansons as the 2009 Outstanding State Conservationists.

The Hansons raise corn, soybeans and hay on 613 acres, and have a 150-head cow-calf operation. Environmental Quality Improvement Program funds provided cost-share money to help them upgrade their feedlot. They poured concrete for a 14-by-220-foot feed lane and a 60-by-160-foot loafing area. Before, the herd’s loafing shed had a simple concrete pad in front, and the rest of the lot was dirt. Now that area has been downsized and is 100% concrete. Plus, a clean-water diversion was placed above the feeding lane so rainwater no longer runs on the feedlot. Rather, runoff is controlled by grass-filtered areas and a 2-foot picket fence.

Eye on water quality

Dan and Sherry also are among 700 volunteers in southeastern Minnesota who are participating in the Volunteer Nitrate Monitoring Network pilot project. For the past two years, they have submitted water samples from the well of their 1904 farmhouse to the SWCD for nitrate testing.

The project will provide baseline data of private wells in order to detect trends in nitrate levels. So far, their samples have come back free of nitrates.

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ONGOING LEGACY: Sherry and Dan Hanson, with daughter Ellianna, were recognized as the state’s 2009 top conservationists at the annual meeting of the Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts in Duluth last month and were awarded a framed wildlife print.

This article published in the January, 2010 edition of THE FARMER.

All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2010.