AUSTIN EDITION - Mower board cool to tillage proposal

By John Weiss

A request that the Mower County Board approve a resolution asking farmers to refrain from plowing soybean fields until spring got a cool reception Tuesday.

Lansing-area farmer Dwight Ault, representing the local Izaak Walton League, asked the board to approve the resolution that "recommends encouraging Mower County soybean producers to eliminate unnecessary tillage of soybean stubble in Mower County." It is modeled after one in Rice County, which has land that's more rolling than Mower's.

The rationale was that the county had 176,400 acres of soybeans in 1999 alone and two-thirds are tilled in fall. Taking all or some of the stubble off the surface leaves it vulnerable to wind or water erosion, he said.


Ault said he has seen where a large drainage ditch was clean one year and nearly filled with sediment the next.

A county resolution might help induce farmers to not turn the stubble until spring, he and two other conservationists said.

"Soil erosion, I am afraid, is something that is being ignored," Ault said. "It's one heck of a big problem."

Board member Ray Tucker, however, said the resolution doesn't do much. "We are passing a recommendation here with no teeth in it," he said.

Board member David Hillier said he's a farmer, and fall plowing helps get the land ready for spring field work. The earlier they can plant, the better the yields, he said.

But John Beckel, who was with Ault, said a resolution could have an impact. "If it hit just one person, it's worth it," he said. "Anything that we do to help is worthwhile."

It's better to have a voluntary resolution now than wait too long and need a mandatory ordinance, Ault said.

The board tabled the request.

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