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chuck uphoff=swcd

By Carol Stender

cstender@agrinews.com

MELROSE, Minn. — When Chuck Uphoff took over the family farm in 1980, he parked the moldboard plow.

Uphoff’s peers recently honored him as the Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation District’s Supervisor of the Year.

Uphoff has served as Stearns County SWCD supervisor for eight years. He has been the board’s chairman the last three years.

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"I discovered there was something out there besides dairying," he said. I had done conservation on the farm and talked to others about conservation programs. It really hit a niche with me and I really started to enjoy the position. I enjoy it to this day."

Uphoff milks 52 cows and has 110 head of livestock. He chisel-plows fields to incorporate manure in the soil.

His land borders the Sauk River and he’s put in buffer strips to filter any field runoff and has grassed the waterways that go through his farm. Uphoff has 24 acres in the Conservation Reserve Program, has planted 3,500 trees through the SWCD tree planting program, and plans to plant another 2,100 this spring.

Uphoff has worked with the Stearns County Pheasants Forever Chapter to plant yellow-flowering alfalfa. The alfalfa should protect nesting pheasants. He’s also set aside food plants for deer, pheasants and waterfowl.

Uphoff’s conservation efforts garnered him and his wife, Deb, Conservationists of the Year honors.

He said it’s important to talk to legislators about the county’s needs for a strong agriculture community and conservation programs. Stearns County has 200 lakes.

"The Legislature needs to know about the pressures the area lakes and ag land face with the demand for lakeshore and country homes," he said.

Changes in the Legislature’s make up, with more lawmakers representing urban areas, means SWCD supervisors like Uphoff need to explain conservation programs to the new legislators.

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