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Your lawn could be butterfly, bee haven

Wayne Duckwitz with NRCS loads the planter with a new mix of cover seed with each pass of the planter. About 40 different cover crops and mixed were planted.

Would you be willing to plant 25 percent of your lawn to butterfly and bee friendly plant species?

It would be good if you would, said Mike Muzzy, Rochester-based USDA-Natural Resource Conservation Service district conservationist. The agency went to great lengths to demonstrate available plant mixes fit for farmers and land owners by planting a 30-foot wide and 220-foot long parcel at 2122 Campus Drive SE near the incinerator plant.

The seed mixes — more than 30 varieties — serve several purposes. Some are nitrogen-fixers, which help farmers produce high-yielding crops. Other mixes are designed to reduce soil erosion while other mixes give butterflies and bees a helping hand. Keeping the soil covered with living plants helps soil microbes and hence protects soil health.

Clovers, turnips, radishes, big bluestem are among the plants that will take root in the plot, Muzzy said.

The specialized planter was brought to Rochester from NRCS Plant Materials Center in Bismarck, N.D. The center collects seeds and offers it to commercial sellers and individual landowners.


Muzzy said cover crops and alternatives to corn and soybean production will be a big part of farming's future.

"It could be a whole revolution in farming,'' he said. "It is going to help clean up the water. It has a lot of benefits for water, air and wildlife."

Muzzy said people can watch the plot grow. A field day for the general public and farmers is in the works. The NRCS has work to do first. Each plant mix will need to be labeled to provide a better education opportunity.

Muzzy added that it would be great if Rochester home owners meet the 25 percent goal.

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