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Brandon farmer protects water

Brandon farmer John Ledermann (right) is recognized for taking measures to protect water quality. (Contributed)1 / 2
Soybeans flourish this year after being no-till drilled into cereal rye on John Ledermann's field in Brandon. The rye was planted in 2016 after the wheat harvest. Ledermann has received recognition for farming practices such as cover crops that keep soil from eroding and protect water. (Contributed)2 / 2

For many years, Brandon farmer John Ledermann has sought to protect water quality, restoring marginal farmland to its natural state and guarding lakes and wetlands with vegetation.

"My father was always interested in it," he said. "He was the biggest influence in getting me interested."

His conservation efforts recently earned him a Minnesota Agriculture Water Quality certification through the Douglas Soil and Water Conservation District. One other farm and two vineyards in Douglas County have that certification.

Ledermann learned farming from his father, Jerome Ledermann, and began farming on his own in 1985. He grows corn, soybeans and wheat on about 1,500 acres.

He follows best management practices in applying nutrients and pest controls to get the best production with the least harm to water quality, the district said in a news release.

He also plants cover crops such as cereal rye, sowing the seed after wheat harvest and spreading seed when he fertilizes young corn plants in the spring.

Soybeans and wheat he plants with a no-till planter while his corn is tilled in strips, leaving some ground undisturbed.

"It definitely helps erosion," Ledermann said. "It definitely improves the soil."

Becoming certified helps farmers get financial assistance for future conservation work and provides a buffer from new state water quality regulations. Certification lasts 10 years.

"I feel an additional benefit of the program is that it provides an opportunity to tell positive stories about the efforts farmers make to produce a bountiful source of nutritious foods while utilizing established (best management practices) to protect our natural resources," said Grant Pearson, certification specialist for west-central Minnesota.

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