Congratulations to Steve and Wanda Howe of Chokio for being selected as Stevens County’s Outstanding Conservationists for 2018. They are pictured here with their son Levi in a rain garden on their property that was constructed by Stevens SWCD. Steve and Wanda have been part of his family farm for over 28 years. They have five children. His dad Richard started farming near Chokio in Baker and Stevens Townships in 1953, where his grandpa Gordon farmed prior to that. The family has nearly reached the century farm mark. Steve’s mom Bonnie still lives on the home farm today. His dad was always conservation-minded and continued to plant trees year after year and set aside land for wildlife habitat and for his family to hunt and enjoy.
Today Steve and his brother have nearly 500 acres in WRP, CRP and CREP. He has converted his tillable land from corn and beans to alfalfa, implementing Forage and Biomass Planting and Forage Harvest Management plans as part of his participation in the NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). These practices are designed to decrease soil erosion and increase soil health by adding a deep-rooted crop to decrease compaction. The land also provides wildlife cover over the winter and he can use the additional forage for his cattle. Steve was one of the first in the state to set up a grazing plan on a permanent Wetland Reserve Program (WRP) easement. He runs his cow/calf pairs on his WRP acreage using a grazing plan developed under NRCS standards. Grazing an easement area like this creates a light disturbance for wildlife and improves grassland health on his property. Howe has also installed a rain garden in his back yard to divert rain water away from his house and filter the runoff to improve water quality. He also enjoys the added benefits of beauty and increased wildlife and pollinators seen around his yard.
Howe and his brother John were recently certified in Stevens County through the MAWQCP (Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program).
Steve has plans for a shelterbelt renovation next year and is always looking for new ways to implement conservation on this farm. The Howes are committed to using their farm for wildlife habitat and as a place where their family can enjoy the outdoors and hunting for years to come. Congratulations on making your farm a conservation legacy in Stevens County!