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Minnesota program pays farmers for leaving corn rows

Agriculture.com Staff 10/05/2006 @ 8:38am

As fall temperatures get cooler and leaves start to fall, it is a subtle reminder that winter is approaching.

In Minnesota, an average of eight fatalities per year are caused by snow and poor driving conditions, says Gary Wyatt, educator in natural resource management with the University of Minnesota Extension Service.

In an effort to improve winter driving conditions and reduce plowing, the Minnesota Department of Transportation (Mn/DOT) will pay farmers who are willing to leave at least eight rows of corn stalks standing over the winter in snowdrift areas. Producers can hand harvest the corn, but the corn stalks must remain standing through winter. The price per bushel should be about $1.50 per bushel above the corn cash price, or more than $3.00, but total price may vary by Mn/DOT district.

Mn/DOT is looking for farmers with fields to the north and west of state highways where there is a demonstrated drifting problem in the windblown maintenance area of southwestern and south central Minnesota.

Strategically placed standing corn rows improve driver visibility during "white out" conditions and improve road surface conditions through the elimination of snow drifts and blow ice. That helps Mn/DOT keep the roads safer for the traveling public and saves money, especially with higher fuel costs.

During the winter of 2000-2001, a University of Minnesota study by Extension climatologist-meteorologist Mark Seeley found that standing corn rows captured nine tons of snow per lineal foot of standing corn.

"Farmers who participate in this program will be providing a service that will potentially save lives, money and time for them and their fellow highway travelers," Wyatt said.

Minnesota farmers interested in the Mn/DOT program should contact the Mn/DOT district office in their area:

  • District 4: Detroit Lakes -- 800/657-3984; Morris -- 800/657-3877
  • District 6: Owatonna -- 507/455-5800; Rochester: 507/285-7350
  • District 7: Mankato -- 800/657-3747; Windom: 800/804-3295
  • District 8: Marshall -- 800/657-3748; Hutchinson -- 877/682-8249; Willmar -- 800/657-3792

    As fall temperatures get cooler and leaves start to fall, it is a subtle reminder that winter is approaching.

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