Extension's Arlt prepares for busy year

ADA, Minn. -Ben Arlt is preparing for a busy 2012.

Extension's Arlt prepares for busy year
Ben Arlt is the county extension educator for Norman and Mahnomen Counties. Arlt started the position in mid-August.

ADA, Minn. -Ben Arlt is preparing for a busy 2012.

The new county Extension educator in Mahnomen and Norman counties has already taken part in northwest Minnesota's soybean college.

He will be at the Jan. 18 Norman County Crop, Seed and Trade Show in Ada and is working with private pesticide applicator training.

Arlt is also part of a seven-session local foods program workshop in January and is organizing and planning research projects for the summer.

It is the kind of schedule the South Dakota State University graduate anticipated when he started his job search last spring.


He sought a position that interested him, rather than searching first for a geographical location to settle in, he said.

"If you are in a place you love, but you hate your job, you probably aren't going to be very happy," he said.

The dual county position caught his eye - especially its education component, he said.

"There was a vague job description, but a key word for me was education," he said. "You have a direct relationship with people. You are serving the needs of the people and those needs are always changing. There is always something fresh to work with."

He admits it was a bit of a shock moving to the rural area after attending school in Brookings, S.D., with its population of 20,000.

"But I like it," said Arlt of his new home at Bertrum.

And he likes working in the agriculture field.

Arlt was born in Bemidji where his family had a hobby farm. He recalls a large garden and some livestock. When the family moved to Hastings, the focus was more on landscaping. But his interest in agriculture wasn't far behind. He had connections to farming through his mother's family who farmed in the Pipestone area. He also worked on a dairy farm, taking over a position after his brother left for another job. He credits that experience, especially his last few years on the job, with his agricultural career choice.


He began working on the dairy farm at age 12 and continued throughout high school, he said. His first job was to milk cows and, as his farm experience grew, he moved to feeding and watering calves, sorting cows and, running machinery and filing silos.

Arlt attended Winona State after high school graduation to take general classes.

"Agriculture was something I was always interested in, but I had to explore it more deeply before committing to it," he said. "I was interested in it enough to work with the dairy farm for eight years. It was that last summer in the dairy farm that I got interested in agriculture and saw myself pursing it further. I am glad I did that, because there really isn't much demand for business students."

He transferred to SDSU to complete is degree.

Agronomy became is focus.

"I thought plants could not fight back," he said with a laugh. "And I feel that every animal eats some sort of agronomic crop whether it is a forage or grain."

He is returning to his roots near Bertrum. He is renting a country place where he can raise a garden, Arlt said. He has purchased a heifer and has plans for laying hens and broilers this summer.

Arlt is also Norman County ag inspector.


The position is diverse and covers a variety of production models, which is evident in the types of research projects he is planning for this summer. He will work with local research plots studying soybean cyst nematode, he said. Arlt also has plans for an intense, vertical garden to be planted on the Norman County fairgrounds. The garden will include trellising and intense planting with a focus on complimentary plants like tomatoes with basil.

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