Schlangen Family Farm: HASP Return on Investment
RegionStearns County, Minn.
Timeline2019 - present
AudienceDairy and row crop farmers
Conservation is important to Schlangen for two reasons: improved water quality and assurance the farm will be more productive and profitable for the next generation. He started his conservation journey rotating crops and applying manure as fertilizer. He also participated in a Natural Resources Conservation Service program to plant buffer strips to reduce runoff. Since then, Schlangen has participated in a new conservation program and is motivated to provide early feedback to program developers so the programs work well as they scale up. Through this process he has found sustainable practices that increase his farm’s productivity and profits.
- Buffer strips: When Schlangen added buffer strips, he found they improved the water and also provided hay for cattle feed.
- Nutrient management: Schlangen uses grid sampling to understand how nutrients are dispersed so he can apply nutrients only where they are needed.
- Stacking slab: Schlangen recently completed a stacking slab, mostly for solid manure storage but with some liquid storage capacity. He is looking forward to having capacity to store enough manure for a full season and injecting the nutrients into the soil in the fall.
Steve Schlangen is a dairy farmer who milks 65 cows and farms 200 acres. He grows corn, soybeans, alfalfa, and barley.
Buffer strips: When Schlangen added buffer strips, he found they improved the water and also provided hay for cattle feed.
Stacking slab: Schlangen recently completed a stacking slab, mostly for solid manure storage but with some liquid storage capacity. He is looking forward to having capacity to store enough manure for a full season and injecting the nutrients into the soil in the fall.
Nutrient management: Schlangen uses grid sampling to understand how nutrients are dispersed so he can apply nutrients only where they are needed.
Moving into the Future
Schlangen continues to explore new conservation practices. He planted cover crops for the first time this past fall and is interested to see how they affect his operation. He believes that continuously improving the impact of his farm is part of his responsibility to the environment and the next generation.
- Schlangen recommends other farmers talk to people that they know and trust and learn from their experiences implementing conservation practices.
- Schlangen believes farming is about being open-minded and finding continuous improvement. Test new practices that you think will work for you and then adjust over time.
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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