MAPSS 2018 Summer Field Tour & Business Meeting

Soil Health and Water Quality

MAPSS 2018 Summer Tour The MAPSS Summer Tour will be held in the Freeborn and Mower County area this year. The city of Austin is located within a land of rivers while the city of Albert Lea is within a land of lakes – why is that? By the end of the tour, the answer to that question will become evident. Both communities have been hit by devastating floods. The Shell Rock Watershed District has been implementing a plan to improve conditions in the watershed to alleviate the effects of floods and improve water quality. 

While visiting a lake level control structure the history and plans for the future of the Shell Rock River watershed will be discussed. A restored wetland site, now a “wetland bank” near Albert Lea has a convoluted history from farm field to mitigation efforts and finally converted back to a wetland. Mike Rask and Luke Lunde will tell this interesting story and lessons learned from it. Myre/Big Island State Park located just east of Albert Lea is in the prairie-forest transition zone. The vegetation and soils of the park reflect its prairie, savanna, and forest history. There are restored tall grass prairie areas, remnant Burr Oak Savanna and open woodlands, and a Maple/Basswood forest on the Big Island. Seven years ago a Lester toposequence was selected for a water table study. Wells and piezometers were installed and years of data collected. We will examine and describe the soils in this toposequence. The depth to redoximorphic features will be examined and related to the piezometer data. A wetland boundary will be discussed in relation to soils, plants, and landscape. 

A park naturalist will tell the history of the vegetation of the area followed by a discussion of how the present soils reflect that story. Myles Elsen will discuss NRCS soil survey updates by Major Land Resource Areas (MLRA). Soil Health is an issue that should concern us all. If our soils were managed by soil health principles there could be a) higher soil water infiltration rates, b) less flooding, c) less soil erosion, d) application rates of fertilizers could be reduced and, e) the bottom line for farmers can result in a higher profit margin. We will visit the Cotter farm near Austin where the farm family has been using cover crops for 10 years. We will compare a field that has been tilled and has had no cover crop compared to a field that has had cover crops for 4 years. Infiltration data will be examined and soil health principles will be discussed by Steve Lawler, Mower County SWCD Soil Scientist. 

Our last stop of the day will be on the Iowan Erosional Surface to look at pre-Illinoian till. The Iowan Erosional Surface is an area of low relief with an integrated drainage network. It sits between the last advance of the Wisconsin Glaciers and the Driftless Area. During the Wisconsin glacial age the Iowan Erosional Surface experienced extensive freeze-thaw action, massive dislodgement of loosened material, sheetwash of slopes, and ferocious winds flowing off glacial ice which sandblasted the landscape. The pre-Illinoian till exhibits near densic bulk density and the landscape is permeated with vertical sand wedges (frost wedges) which reflect past permafrost conditions that once existed in this landscape. We will visit a borrow area at an active water retention construction site to see the old till. The following is registration information; please register now for this informative tour of an area that is really dynamic, once one takes a closer look. 

We look forward to your attendance!

Optional PDH Fee

PDH are obtained without paying the $10 PDH fee. However, your attendance at the conference will be certified by MAPSS only by paying this fee. MAPSS will certify and maintain a record of your attendance, which will be provided to licensing boards upon your request. All other attendees must maintain their own records. MAPSS will not certify your attendance without paying this fee.

Other Meetings and Events

MAPSS 2018 Summer Tour & Business Meeting:

Soil Health and Water Quality

Mower and Freeborn County MN,

Friday, July 20, 2018  •  8:00 am – 5:00 pm

Help us plan and register by July 13

2018 Minnesota Cooperative Soil Survey Meeting

Thursday, June 21, 2018  •  9:30 am-3:00 pm

University of Minnesota, St. Paul Campus, Borlaug Hall

Register at

2018 North Central Regional Cooperative Soil Survey Conference

July 9-13, 2018 • Brookings, South Dakota

“Soil Health and Soil Salinity — NCSS Cooperation in Action”

Pre-event Teleconference

Friday, June 22, 2018 from 9:00-11:00 AM CST

Call in information:

Phone: 1-888-844-9904

Access Code: 5428728

Gustavus Adolphus Nobel Conference 54

Living Soil: A Universe Underfoot

October 2 & 3, 2018

Sneak-Peek Soil Tour on July 13, 2018

Gustavus Adolphus Linnaeus Symposium

Soil Stewardship: The Ground We Stand On

July 12, 2018