Addressing Climate Change
As Minnesota’s climate is continuously changing, farmers must continuously adapt every growing season. Farmers both contribute to and can be a part of climate change solutions. R.D. Offutt Farms is doing its part to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through a variety of measures:
Cover crops: Sustainable farming practices can help mitigate the impact of climate change by using soil and plants as natural carbon sinks. One major way that farms can help with climate change is by planting cover crops, which are crops we grow to improve soil health, not to sell. Not only do cover crops keep the soil healthy by reducing soil erosion and improving water retention, cover crops also capture carbon in the atmosphere. According to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, 25 acres of cover crops is equivalent to taking one car off the road.
Reforestation: The Nature Conservancy cites reforestation as one of the highest opportunities for carbon storage in Minnesota, with a mature tree absorbing about 48 pounds of carbon dioxide per year. Since 1990, we have planted more than 300,000 trees at our farm in Park Rapids, and our goal is to plant 20,000 trees per year. Additionally, we manage more than 3,500 acres of natural wooded or forested lands. These trees and forested areas not only capture carbon but also minimize soil erosion by slowing rain and wind.
Effective tillage practices: We’ve reduced field passes by implementing GPS auto-steering, reducing overlap, unnecessary tillage and fuel consumption. We vary our tillage on different soil types, but still meet the needs of our customers.
Energy-efficient farm equipment and facilities: In line with keeping our operations highly efficient, we have implemented a number of measures to conserve energy. We have low-emission tractors in our fleet, designed to use less diesel fuel. We have converted diesel-generated irrigators to electric irrigators on every R.D. Offutt Farm, cutting horsepower requirements by 50% to use less energy. Off the field, we have more than 60 potato storage facilities. Each facility uses LED lighting, which is 70% more efficient in energy and longevity than incandescent lighting.
Supporting the new energy economy: Our farm in Becker, Minn. is adjacent to a proposed Xcel Energy solar development project. Xcel sought our interest in the project and through negotiations, R.D. Offutt Farms is partnering on this renewable energy development, investing 1500 high-quality farm acres to be converted to host solar panels. Xcel notes this project will jump-start the economy by creating jobs and speed the clean energy transition while keeping bills low.