Blue Diamond Dairy: HASP Return on Investment

Region

Stearns County, Minn.

Timeline

2021 - present

Audience

Dairy and row crop farmers

Conservation Story

The Frericks are the first generation of their family to run a dairy. Starting from scratch lets them be creative and try different practices. The family has received financial and technical support to pursue conservation practices from the NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program, livestock investment grants USDA livestock investment grants, and dairy business planning grants.

The Frericks both grew up on dairy farms: Glen on a conservation-minded farm where they didn’t till the soil every year. Rotational grazing for the cows was a common practice on Sadie’s family farm. Today, the couple continues these conservation practices on their operation.

Practice Impacts

  • Planting cover crops increases forage for their herds.
  • Semi-rotational pasture grazing instead of more intensive rotational grazing helps protect a population of nesting bobolinks.
  • Leaving brush piles near their pond and allowing some of their pasture to go un-grazed until after the bobolink nesting season ends protects the birds.
  • Minimal tilling allows alfalfa in the spring which is followed with no-till corn.
  • Installation of earthen diversions and a manure lagoon improved the water quality of the pond on their farm.

Cover crops

Semi-rotational grazing

Manure management

Habitat preservation

Minimal till

Runoff prevention

family of five people

Don’t be afraid to try something new. It’s okay to be outside the cultural norm. Evaluate what practices are really moving the needle and let go of the ones that aren’t. I think learning about other farms is super important.

Sadie Frericks
photo of Blue Diamond Dairy

Moving into the Future

While practices such as semi-rotational grazing and cover crop a staple of their operation, the Frericks continue to find ways to add new practices and adapt their current ones. Glen has a five-acre plot near the pasture that he experiments with; he once planted foraging soybeans into a corn rotation there.

Main Takeaways

  • Cover crops provide additional feed for their livestock and increase organic matter in the soil. Sadie believes cover crops helped reduce soil runoff during the particularly wet spring of 2022.
  • Being the first generation in their family to farm this land, they’ve been able to creatively adopt new practices that improve their yields, soil health, and the local ecosystem.

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