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Ring Dike Offers Protection to Liedberg Farmstead

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Ring Dike Offers Protection to Liedberg Farmstead

Winters in northwest Minnesota can be very long. They can be especially long if your home and cattle operation lie within an area that is becoming increasingly susceptible to spring flooding. That is the case for Nathan Liedberg, farmer in Marshall County, Minnesota. Nathan had heard about a program offered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) that could possibly bring some relief to him and his family.

West side of ring dike in the spring of 2011. The average height of the dike is 4 feet. Grass seeding is establishing through the use of straw blankets.

In February, 2010, Nathan decided to stop by the NRCS field office located in the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Service Center in Warren, MN. It was at the field office where he shared his concerns with flooding on his home-site along the Thief River in East Valley Township. He sat down with Kevin Gietzen, the District Conservationist, and shared some pictures of his flooding issues from the previous spring. The pictures showed much of his property under water with his cows and calves huddled together on the higher ground that remained. Nathan said that he had lost a few calves during that particular event in the photos.

Another concern that was pointed out is the fact that much of the manure from the cattle was ending up in the river and having a negative impact on water quality. One way to combat these issues would be to construct a ring dike around the cattle yard and farmstead. “Ring dikes are earthen structures that protect the farmstead from overland flooding while reducing the potential for chemical and agricultural waste entering flood waters”, says Gietzen.

Nathan was encouraged to sign an application that day for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Since he was relatively new to the cattle business, Nathan was able to sign up as a “Beginning Farmer” which can provide additional assistance to install practices such as ring dikes. The ring dike practice was a recent addition to the program and this particular farm site made for a good candidate. By the end of March, Liedberg’s application was selected for funding and quickly turned into a contract.

Voluntary Farm Bill programs such as EQIP, which provide financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers, are the key to helping producers meet their conservation goals and for providing the public with important benefits such as cleaner water, improved air quality, healthy soils and abundant wildlife. EQIP was reauthorized in the 2008 Farm Bill. In 2009, USDA-NRCS targeted financial assistance through EQIP for the installation or enhancement of “ring dikes” around farmsteads.

The Red Lake Watershed District (RLWD) and Houston Engineering Inc. (both of Thief River Falls, MN) provided the technical assistance to perform survey, design and checkout for the project. After a lengthy planning process, the project was completed in the fall of 2010. Construction of the project was completed by a group effort of local contractors. The RLWD has been involved in the construction and financial assistance of ring dikes since 1997, after record flooding in the Red River Basin. Ring Dike Construction

The Liedberg family is grateful for the assistance that they received from the NRCS and the local Watershed District to solve their resource and flooding problems on the farm. The cattle are now able to stay on dry ground, the river is not subjected to animal waste and the family has been given piece of mind. NRCS’ Mission is to “Help People Help the Land” and this success story is a good example of just that.

To find out more information about EQIP in Minnesota, contact your local NRCS office or please visit the MN NRCS website at www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/eqip

For more information on Minnesota news items or publications, please call Public Affairs, (651) 602-7859.

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