Congratulations to Rod and Sara Elmstrand, recipients of the 2019 Isanti Soil and Water Conservation District’s Outstanding Conservationist Award.
The Elmstrands were recognized at the Outstanding Conservationist luncheon held in conjunction with the MN Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts (MASWCD) 2019 Annual Convention. Each year the Isanti SWCD recognizes individuals and/or organizations for outstanding accomplishments in implementing conservation practices and improving Minnesota’s natural resources.
The Elmstrand farm has been in the family since 1934; although, it wasn’t until 1981 that Rod’s Berry Farm was established. Since that time, with the help of his wife Sara and his five children Becky, Tricia, Mary, Erik and Paul, the Elmstrand’s have continued to expand their business. Presently, they grow and market strawberries, blueberries and pumpkins. In addition, they grow a diverse crop rotation of other crops including corn, soybeans, hay, small grains and a variety of cover crops.
The Elmstrand’s are continually seeking ways to improve productivity while also improving soil health, protecting groundwater and reducing pollution into nearby lakes and streams. Some of the ways they have done this include:
• Reducing tillage: reducing mechanical manipulation of the soil the builds soil organic matter, improves soil structure and reduces erosion;
• Planting multi-species cover crops: planting crops during the off season improves soil health, improves water infiltration and scavenges excess nitrogen and phosphorus;
• Managing irrigation: managing amounts and timing of watering minimizes leaching of nitrates into groundwater and conserves water.
In addition to implementing the above-mentioned projects on their own land, Rod recently volunteered time to participate in conversations aimed at increasing agricultural conservation in the Lower St. Croix Watershed.
“We’re proud of Rod and Sara for what they’ve done for conserving the natural resources in Isanti County,” said Roger Larsen, board chair of the Isanti Soil and Water Conservation District. “It’s evident that the Elmstrand’s have invested in conservation because they feel that it is the right thing to do for the land.”