ST. PAUL -- Nine farmers and researchers have been awarded $241,009 by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture for sustainable agriculture projects. 

The projects will explore practices and systems that could make farming more profitable, resource efficient, and personally satisfying. 

"I’ve been a long-time supporter of these programs and believe the projects presented here are great examples of the innovative ideas Minnesota farmers and researchers are exploring and testing to make farming in Minnesota more productive and sustainable," Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen said.

Projects, which last two to three years, are in all regions of the state and include cover crops, soil fertility, fruits and vegetables, alternative markets or specialty crops, livestock, and energy.

In southern Minnesota, grants have been awarded to:

Allen Krause of the Cannona River Watershed Partnership in Rice and Goodhue counties, for $41,500, to study the effect of corn row width on cover crop biomass and grain yields.

Melodee Smith and Wendy Wustenberg for $25,000 to explore the North Star Farm Tour  in Dakota, Faribault, Fillmore, Goodhue, Olmsted, Ramsey, Rice, Scott and Wright counties as a sustainable agri-tourism models for small fiber producers.

Wyatt Parks Main Street Project in Dakota and Rice counties, for $24,000 to evaluate hazelnuts as a soy protein replacement in free-range poultry systems.

Summaries are all the projects are available at  at

The Agricultural Growth, Research and Innovation Sustainable Agriculture Demonstration Grants program has awarded more than $4.2 million in its 29-year history.