top of page
View across a field

Welcome!

Foster County Soil Conservation District is here to promote soil, water, and resource conservation by offering technical, financial, informational, and educational assistance and opportunities to the people of Foster County.

Check out our programs and services.  Get in touch with us if you have any questions, comments, or concerns, or if you are interested in participating in any of our programs.

Excess Tree Sale

The excess conservation grade trees from this year's planting season will be available for sale at the District Tree Shed from 8 AM to 5:30 PM on Friday, June 14.

Watch the District's Facebook page.  A list of trees available will be posted in early June and contact information listed for those who want to order and pick up trees prior to the sale day.

Arbor Day Celebrations

image5.jpeg

Foster County Soil Conservation District held its 19th annual First Grade Tree Planting at 12:45 PM on May 16.  This event is part of the City of Carrington’s official Arbor Day celebration.

Teachers Tressa Van Ray and April Berntsen, aided by paras Ben Foster and Maya Mosolf, brought their students to learn about Arbor Day and planting trees from SCD District Manager Dionn Schaaf,  SCD Supervisors Curtiss Klein and Cody Montgomery, and Foster County Extension Agent Jeff Gale.  The city of Carrington was represented by Public Works Director Jason Wolsky.  Staff at the park and the school aided by doing site preparation.

The Carrington Tree Board provided two trees for the Class of 2035 to plant.  The students all pitched in to plant a “Hot Wings” Tatarian maple at the grade school grounds and a “Starlite” flowering crabapple tree at the city park.   Finlee Hagen, Broc Helseth, Emma Koll, and Max McConnell won the drawing to take home the four kid-sized shovels provided by the SCD, and the students each received a conservation T-shirt and a Black Hills spruce tree seedling.  The SCD also provided educational materials for use in the classroom.

The SCD provided tree seedlings and educational materials to first grade classes at the Midkota and Kensal grade schools as well, and the Kensal class enjoyed a brief presentation and story time.

"Mow Less May" and "Slow Mow Summer"

No Mow May has been a movement in recent years, but it turns out that it’s really not good for your lawn or the best option for the pollinators it’s intended to promote.  The recommendation instead is for Mow Less May and Slow Mow Summer.  The University of Minnesota and other resources have suggestions to help implement them.  These suggestions can help you to decrease the amount of mowing and inputs required in your yard and provide valuable pollinator habitat.

First, the rule is that you should try to never mow off more than 1/3 of the leaf surface of your grass plants.  This really stresses the plants, as does mowing after they’ve gone to seed, so not mowing for a whole month is not a good idea.  Instead, the recommendation is to raise the mowing deck as high as possible, which on most mowers is 3 to 4 inches.  This allows you to let the grass grow to 4.5 to 6 inches before mowing it for that 1/3 cut.  That usually allows you to wait longer between mowings and, because the roots are also knocked back by mowing, it lets the roots grow deeper so the grass is more able to withstand drought.

You can also change what your lawn consists of:  Fine fescue can be mowed as little as four times a year, and both fine and tall fescue require far less water and fertilizer than Kentucky bluegrass.  If you add low-growing flowers like Dutch white clover or Self-heal, you can provide some pollinator habitat in your lawns, which are usually notoriously pollinator-unfriendly.  If you have the space, you could install a section of wildflower meadow, or convert some of your lawn to garden beds.  Whether overseeding new turf grass or planting a new meadow or flowerbed, planning and soil preparation will be key to success.

You can make your yard a pollinator haven by adding flowers that bloom from early spring through late fall.  These can be trees and shrubs as well as flowerbeds.  Besides the ones that people recognize as fruit-bearing, there are trees like maples and boxelder, cottonwood, oak, and hazelnut that flower early in the spring.  Other trees can continue to provide food through summer and fall.  When planting flowers, natives tend to be best suited to both our conditions and providing pollinators’ needs.  When planting non-native species, old-fashioned single flowers tend to be better for pollinators than doubled ones.

If you really want to provide a home for pollinators year-round, you’ll need to provide nesting habitat.  That could include a patch of bare ground (usually easy to find in a garden), standing dead wood and cavities, or hollow plant stems.  When possible, avoid cleaning your flowerbeds out until spring temperatures have stayed above 50 degrees for a week.  If you must clean out the beds in the fall, try setting stems that might hold pollinators aside in a brush pile until spring. 

 

Keep in mind that grass clippings hold a lot of nitrogen, so it’s worth composting them or using them for mulch as long as they haven’t been sprayed with pesticides and herbicides.

Finally, remember it’s usually best to water deep and infrequently.  The usual recommendation is 1 inch once a week, preferably in early morning.  The exception to this is if you’re using drip irrigation to water individual plants.

2017 Dust Storm
Not the Dirty Thirties, Spring of 2017!!
Enderlin dust storm

Photo: Storm Tracker Weather

ValleyCity dust storm

Photo: Bev Nessler

These photos were taken spring of 2017, showing that soil erosion is still a threat to our farmland.  These sights have been repeated more than once since then.  See the  "News and Information" page for photos from the dust storm of March 29-30, 2021.  Parts of eastern North Dakota have lost over half of their topsoil since 1964.  

"Most of what we call topsoil today is a mixture of the remains of the original higher organic matter topsoil mixed through tillage with some subsurface horizon.  Loss of soil in millions of acres can be measured in feet over the past 120 years. Most lost soil...is going high into the air, and only a small amount lands in a roadside ditch." (Dave Franzen, NDSU)  For more information, see the video "The History of Soil Erosion in North Dakota" on YouTube.

There are things we can do to prevent sights like this.  Windbreaks that help decrease wind erosion are being removed and not replaced.  There are other practices as well that promote soil health and will also help decrease erosion, such as keeping the soil covered with vegetation or residue, minimizing soil disturbance, and keeping live roots in the soil for as long as possible with practices like cover crops.

When land does well for its owner, and the owner does well by his land; when both end up better by reason of their partnership, we have conservation. -- Aldo Leopold

bottom of page