Hansmeier named 2013 Outstanding Conservation Cooperator

Jon Hansmeier has been selected by the Benton Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) as the 2013 Outstanding Conservation Cooperator of the Year. Hansmeier lives and farms in Glendorado Township and has 660 acres of cropland in a corn/soybean rotation along with 40 acres of hay land. He has been farming on his own for 34 years. Next year Hansmeier’s parent’s farm, which he now operates, will become a century farm.

Hansmeier will be honored as outstanding conservationist at a Dec. 3 luncheon at the annual convention of the Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts (MASWCD) in Bloomington. MASWCD sponsors the Outstanding Conservationist Award, with support from The Farmer magazine, and the award ceremony receives sponsorship from the Minnesota Corn Growers Association. Hansmeier has also been nominated for the Minnesota Outstanding Conservationist of the Year Award, the winner of which will be announced at the convention.

“We’re proud of Jon for what he’s done in conserving our natural resources in our area,” said Gerry Maciej, manager of the Benton SWCD, which nominated Hansmeier for the award. “It’s great to be able to recognize the work he’s done locally.”

The Outstanding Conservationist contest is an important event because it recognizes the accomplishments and efforts of local cooperators in soil and water conservation. Below are just a few of the things Hansmeier has implemented over the past few years:

• Hansmeier started using Mulch Tillage on 145.6 acres of his cropland in 2006, which keeps at least 1/3 of the soil surface covered with crop residue.

• Installed his own erosion control practices in 2007 with no cost-share assistance. He used a combination of fill material, biodegradable mesh, and seeding to stabilize a swale near his pastureland.

• Completed three years of nutrient management on his cropland which includes following Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), and University of Minnesota crop recommendations and manure application setbacks.

• Has completed Nutrient Management Test Plots, where side-by-side applications of different rates of manure or fertilizer were compared to see what rate works best for the farmer. With his plots, Hansmeier compared different rates and timings of fertilizer and manure.

• Purchased his own Poultry Manure Spreader in 2007 through the Agricultural Best Management Practices (AgBMP) Low Interest Loan program. In 2012 Hansmeier began managing the Benton SWCD’s Poultry Manure Spreader which is rented out to cooperators throughout Benton County. His time includes maintenance on the spreader and also scheduling its use.

• Between 2004 and 2006, Hansmeier has put in a total of 3 filter strips between fields and ditches to protect water quality. Filter strips slow runoff from fields, trapping and filtering sediment, nutrients, pesticides, and other potential pollutants before they reach surface waters.

• In 2010 he began harvesting hay in a manner that allows wildlife to flush and escape. This includes avoiding fieldwork during nesting and fawning periods and also installing a flushing bar to reduce wildlife mortality during harvest.

Along with all of these practices he has implemented on his farm, Hansmeier is also the President of the Benton/Sherburne Chapter of the Minnesota Corn Growers Association. He has also been a member of the Watershed Leaders group for the Mississippi River – St. Cloud Major Watershed Restoration and Protection Project since 2012.

Hansmeier is a great example of a farmer with a great conservation ethic. He takes a hands-on approach to protecting water and soil quality on his cropland, hay land, and woodland. He is active in promoting and maintaining the SWCD Poultry Manure Spreader and has implemented a number of practices that both preserve his land while maintaining or increasing his productivity.