Schefers Brothers Dairy: HASP Return on Investment
RegionStearns County, Minnesota
Timeline2021 - present
AudienceDairy and row crop farmers
Brothers Kenneth and Ralph Schefers took over operation of their 340-acre dairy farm from their father who bought the beautiful land in 1943. They now operate it with Kenneth’s wife, Julie, and son, Jason.
The family always thought about implementing practices to reduce soil erosion, and the brothers brought that mentality into their work. They added practices such as minimum tillage and a diverse crop rotation to preserve and improve their soil while reducing their need for additional chemicals.
They joined the return-on-investment program in part to see how their practices were doing against traditional practices. The Schefers were amazed to see the positive difference they had in profitability. They know that it can be a big leap to put these practices into farms and encourages interested farmers to attend field days and talk to their local soil and water conservation district representatives. It can be hard to not feel alone in this journey.
The brothers share the lesson that they learned is to be courageous and try new things. “There are just so many good results that you don’t even see,” they encouraged.
Moving into the Future
With three of the four farmers in their sixties, the Schefers plan to stop milking within the next few years to make their workloads more manageable. With more time, they would like to do more work with strip tilling or cover crops.
Minimum tillage and a diverse crop rotation that includes alfalfa has helped the Schefers build up their soil, reduced their need for pesticides and resistant seed, and has helped them maintain profitability even in years with variable weather.
The Schefers operate an 80-year-old, 340-acre dairy farm nestled among rolling hills in Stearns County, Minnesota.
Northside Safety NET has welcomed eight new interns and welcomed back five interns from the original cohort for this year of programming. Learn more about our interns and consider supporting them as they learn about environmental justice in their community.
A recent return-on-investment study of dairy operations in central Minnesota found that profitability and environmental stewardship are complimentary. The study analyzed 10 farms and found that on average the farms demonstrated improved environmental and financial outcomes compared to benchmarks.
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