With this year’s potato harvest wrapped up, the R.D. Offutt (RDO) Farm team closed out the 2021 growing season by planting more than 14,000 acres of cover crops and 200 acres of pollinator habitat.
Warren Warmbold, RDO Farms Midwest Operations Manager, said each farm has a goal to plant as many cover crops as possible, which benefits the soil for next year’s growing season. This year, RDO farm managers planted 12 percent more cover crops than last year — a mixture of rye, oats, mustard and tillage radish across farms in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
“We’ve found that the better we take care of the soil, the better it takes care of us,” Warmbold said. “Cover crops reduce soil erosion, add organic matter back to the soil and sequester carbon dioxide, which makes for more productive fields and good results for the environment around us.”
Following cover crops, the RDO farm team focused on one more fall planting — establishing new pollinator habitat across 200 acres.
“Since 2015, RDO Farms has planted more than 600 acres of pollinator habitats at our Park Rapids, Wadena and Perham locations,” Warmbold said. “This year, we added acreage at those farms and we established our first pollinator habitat at our Becker farm.”
Through an ongoing partnership with Syngenta’s Operation Pollinator, RDO planted native seed mixes created for Minnesota’s climate. The seed was spread on dry field corners through a no-till process when the soil temperature dropped below 50 degrees. Winter precipitation will provide moisture for the seeds to germinate next spring. The mixes are expected to attract monarch butterflies, honeybees, bees and other pollinators.
Warmbold said this year’s challenging growing season, notable for a lack of rainfall that proved hard on farmers across the state, was a reminder of the important benefits of measures like cover crops and pollinators, which pay dividends for soil and the surrounding environment.
“After this year’s drought, our farm teams are already talking about more ways to improve operations,” Warmbold said. “We are doing everything we can to take care of the land and water that sustains us.”
Image 1: Mustard cover crop at RDO Wadena Farm, fall 2021.
Image 2: Pollinator habitat at RDO Park Rapids Farm, summer 2021.
Image 3: Pollinator habitat, 2 at RDO Park Rapids Farm, summer 2021.