Agriculture and the Environment

Working the lands in harmony with nature and the world around us takes some amount of care and best management practices. Isanti County’s Soil and Water Conservation District (ISWCD) and the Natural Resources Conservation Service work with landowners who may be interested in MDA Water Quality Certification Program. This program is one of many implemented by these two agencies which helps landowners increase production efficiency, encourage crop rotations, and install best management practices which will help protect Minnesota’s waters and the Wild and Scenic Rum River. Participating in this program is FREE and it helps a landowner gain valuable knowledge about MDA Best Management Practices. For additional rural resources and information on other programs, visit the Rural Resources section of the Isanti Soil and Water Conservation Distrcit Website. If you are an agricultural producer and also own shoreland property, consider a lakeshore restoration or native plant shoreland buffer to reduce sediment and excess nutrient loads into our public waters and wetlands. 

Buffers

As of December 2019 the County is proud to announce that landowners are 99.99% compliant with final agreements made with the ISWCD to gain 100% compliance over the next year. The County would like to commend all producers and landowners who have worked with the ISWCD to protect Minnesota waters and Isanti County’s Public Water Resources by reducing sediment loads and providing perennial vegetation to filter excess nutrients from entering those waters. Good work! Those landowners adjacent to a public water wanting to learn more about native plant buffers please click on the DNR links below. For information on installing buffers or to receive free technical assistance visit the ISWCD buffer page or call 763-689-3271. Isanti County has elected enforcement of Minnesota’s Buffer Law MN Statute 103F.48

Soil Health 

Many producers know that organic matter in soils helps improve soil health and microbial activity within the soil horizon. Increasing organic matter also adds to increased water retention in the critical root zone which can ultimately lead to healthier plants and higher productivity. In Isanti County we are located on a north eastern fringe of the Anoka Sand Plain, which covers about 60% of the County and was formed by the mighty Mississippi River. This massive sand plain is comprised of multiple areas of fine and coarse sands derived from glacial till that drain relatively quickly. This can pose issues for producers during dryer than normal years and can translocate chemicals and nitrates relatively quickly to shallow aquifers. ISWCD does well monitoring for 11 wells around the County through a contract with the MN DNR. For more information on improving soil health visit the NRCS Soil Health website. 

Pollinator Protection Information 

Pollinators like honey bees, insects, and other small birds use native plants and wildflowers as a major food source. These native plants and flowers also help local honey producers with their operations and productivity. Recently there has been some concern about possible decreased populations of various honey bees related to the use of neonic pesticides. These toxic pesticides are called neonicotinoids. The following pesticides should be avoided to protect local populations of pollinators: Imidaclopid, Clothianidin, Thiamethoxam, Dinotefuran, Acetamiprid For additional information please view MDA’s Best Management Practices for Pollinators or Farmers for Monarchs. To increase pollinator habitat on your property or find out additional programs that provide landowners technical assistance please view BWSR Pollinator Habitat (PDF).

Organic Agriculture and Vineyards 

Recently Isanti County has seen an increased interest in organic farming practices and grape production. Organic farming practices is a guarantee about how an agricultural food or fiber product was grown and handled before it reaches the consumer. These operations have been around since the early settlers of our County and State, but this practice is gaining more interest in this County. Organic farmers compost plant materials or use cover crops to increase soil health, water retention, and release natural nutrients from naturally occurring microbes and bacteria within the soil. For more information on Organic Farming Information or No Spray Zone Information, visit the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

Geographically, the 44th and 45th latitude have been excellent northern climates to produce wines in the Midwest. Therefore, this County located just north of the 45th latitude is a prime location for grape production and the University of Minnesota has developed multiple cold hardy grapes that thrive in our Zone 3-4 hardiness zone and are readily available from local or Twin Cities nurseries to start production. For frequently asked questions about the University of Minnesota's wine grapes and grape production, please visit the Wine Grapes FAQ