• Lon Tonneson

    Another Wetland Snafu

    Inside Dakota Ag

     by Lon Tonneson
     on April 18, 2014

    About a dozen farmers near the small northeast South Dakota town of Claremont recently received wetland violation letters for a ditch they say they dug to save their town from flooding in 2011. They claim they received permission from the township, the county and even the local NRCS wetland specialist (now retired) for the project. No federal money was involved. No cost sharing. The landowners got together, pooled their money and dug the canal themselves. Now, three years later, someone has…

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  • Lon Tonneson

    Carbon Credits Coming For Grassland

    Inside Dakota Ag

     by Lon Tonneson
     on November 6, 2013

    Farmers and ranchers who maintain grassland easements in the Dakotas might be able to earn an extra one time payment of $16 to $25 per acre in carbon credits in the future. Ducks Unlimited, NRCS and several private organizations have created a carbon credit program for grasslands. Enrolled land could not be tilled, but it could be put in a conservation program or used for grazing and/or haying. The carbon credit payment would be in addition to any conservation easement payments. The payment…

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  • Lon Tonneson

    CRP Conversion Alone Isn't To Blame For Pheasant Decline

    Inside Dakota Ag

     by Lon Tonneson
     on September 5, 2013

    South Dakota pheasant numbers are down, but farmers aren’t completely to blame. That’s what I conclude from reports about South Dakota Game Fish and Game Parks Department's annual roadside survey of pheasants. GF&P cited the decline in habitat -- the conversion of CRP and grassland to cropland -- as one of the reasons behind the drop in the index of pheasants per mile from 4.19 last year to 1.52 this year. But the GF&P says “months of persistent…

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  • Lon Tonneson

    SD Farm Takes Conservation To Higher Level

    Inside Dakota Ag

     by Lon Tonneson
     on July 29, 2013

    One great thing about my job is that I get to visit a lot of farms. I have never seen a  farm with such an impressive conservation effort as one I visited near Aberdeen, S.D., last week. The father and son (who I’m not going to identify yet because I hope to feature them in upcoming edition of the magazine) had purchased several farms along a river in Brown County and created a new unit that spans several thousand acres. About 30% of the farm is enrolled in conservation…

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  • Lon Tonneson

    Signs of Soil Loss

    Inside Dakota Ag

     by Lon Tonneson
     on March 27, 2013

    There were a couple times this winter when it was pretty easy to see soil erosion happening. During a couple blizzards, the air was filled with blowing snow and dirt -- snirt, as it's called in the Dakotas. On a trip I made from my farmstead to Bismarck after the storm, I saw road ditches were filled with snowdrifts laced with black streaks. Next to really bare fields, the drifts of snow were grey, not white. It was disappointing to see so much wind erosion happening after so…

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  • Lon Tonneson

    Ranch Renewed

    Inside Dakota Ag

     by Lon Tonneson
     on June 25, 2012

    I thought the bare hills and the eroded draws along the Missouri River in South Dakota were just symbols of a tough country. But during a tour last week of the Mortenson Ranch near Hayes I learned that they are more than likely signs of an abused land. “This country was full of trees in the 1800s, until the government decided to put a family on every section,” says Clarence Mortenson, a Lakota from the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and a fifth-generation rancher who has been working…

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  • Lon Tonneson

    Farm Soil Erosion Is Clear In Muddy Waters

    Inside Dakota Ag

     by Lon Tonneson
     on May 29, 2012

    Over the Memorial Day weekend, I took three of my grandkids to the Buffalo River State Park, which is near our farm. The twins are 4-years-old and their brother is 8. We had a grand time throwing rocks in the river, catching frogs off a sandbar and wading in the water. About the only downside to the day was the color of the water. It had rained pretty heavily the night before and the river was brown with silt. The Buffalo River runs through some good Red River Valley farmland. But the corn…

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  • Lon Tonneson

    Signs In The Night Sky

    Inside Dakota Ag

     by Lon Tonneson
     on February 7, 2012

    Jay Bursch, a Glenn Ullin, N.D., amateur sunspot and aurora borealis watcher, sent me an interesting letter the other day. It details the number of auroras, or northern lights, he has documented by month since 1981. There are more 2,250. Bursch, who has been quoted by ABC News and several aurora borealis societies, thinks that di auroras, or northern lights, can tell us what’s driving climate change. Auroras are caused by sunspots and solar flares. The more solar flares, the theory…

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  • Lon Tonneson

    Return Of The Prairie Wildfire

    Inside Dakota Ag

     by Lon Tonneson
     on November 20, 2011

    I lit a brush pile on our farmstead on fire the other day and spent a tense half hour beating down the flames that flickered through the dry grass surrounding the pile. Luckily, my son and I were able put contain the fire before it reached the shelterbelt and really took off. Fortunately, I had waited to start the fire until the soybean field around our farmstead had been harvested and the ground had been worked. If the fire had gotten away from us, at least it wouldn’t have spread…

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  • Lon Tonneson

    From white caps to dust ups

    Inside Dakota Ag

     by Lon Tonneson
     on October 18, 2011

    Harvest is going surprisingly well this year. Surprisingly, because most farmers in the eastern Dakotas are used to harvests of mud. Of pulling combines, trucks and carts, of combining corn in standing water and cob-high snow drifts, and of awaking up from a 3 a.m. nap in the sugarbeet lifter and having their  boot frozen to the cab floor. (That happened to my neighbor.) Fields across the Dakotas are dry and the row crops are coming off fast. Some farmers, like Roger Walkinshaw, of…

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