Rice County, Minnesota


2022 - present




Conservation Story

Dan and Erin Honken have implemented conservation practices on their farm since they took over the operation from Dan’s father in 1994. Starting off, they converted 70 acres of highly erodible land into pasture.

Conservation efforts ramped up in 2015 when they added cover crops into their corn and soybean rotation and adopted no till and minimal till practices. A few years later they added the perennial grain Kernza. The Honkens found these practices reduced costs and improved yields.

The Honkens received financial support for growing Kernza from University of Minnesota and Clean River Partners (Minnesota Department of Agriculture) grant programs. Their Kernza crop has been part of a University of Minnesota study on how grazing impacts the grain yield of the perennial plant. They also received funding for their cover crop seeds from the USDA NRCS Conservation Stewardship Program.

Improved soil structure from the covered ground has saved the family money on fuel and equipment, especially regarding no till drilling soybeans. Allowing the cattle to graze on the cover crops and Kernza also reduced feeding expenses.

In the long run, I think (cover crops) pay for themselves through the improvements of soil health and prevention of erosion. These practices are especially worthwhile if you’ve got cattle that can take advantage of grazing on covers.

Dan Honken
Red sign that reads honken farms in lower left hand side of the image. A gravel driveway, green grass and three farm siloes are pictured on a sunny day

Farm Description

Dan and Erin have run the farm since they took over from Dan’s father in 1994. Dan operates a cow/half beef operation, and Erin grows flowers for local consumers through a community supported agriculture program. They interseed about 200 acres of cover crops into their corn and soybean rotation. 

Conservation practices at work

Cover crops
No till and minimal till
Nutrient management
Perennial plantings (Kernza®)
Prescribed grazing

Get started today

Talk to Dan and Erin Honken

Want to know more about how the Honkens made changes on their farm? Contact them today.

Connect with technical experts

Learn more about these practices and financial and educational resources available to make changes on your farm. Contact the Rice Soil and Water Conservation District at (507)-332-5408.

Explore more

Learn more about what other farmers in the region are doing to build soil health by exploring the rest of the tour. 

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