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Garfield farmer protects water

A Garfield farmer has been recognized for using farming practices that protect water quality.

Jerald Morical was certified by the Douglas Soil and Water Conservation District through the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program, a voluntary program that officials say protects lakes and rivers from farm runoff.

Morical farms 650 acres, rotating corn, soybeans and wheat. For five years, he has not tilled the soil, which he said has helped water infiltrate the soil and eliminated gully erosion problems, the district said in a news release. Through the transition, his crop yields have stayed steady.

His other practices include planting cover crops, maintaining vegetation to protect soil, minimizing soil disturbance and maintaining living roots in the soil.

As of Dec. 1, 493 Minnesota growers had received certification, the district said. Morical's farm joins two other farms and two vineyards in Douglas County that have been certified.

Benefits include recognition, priority to financial and technical assistance, and a 10-year break from having to comply with new water quality rules.

For more information, visit www.mda.state.mn.us/awqcp.