1/2/2014 10:48:00 AM Stoffels honored by Soil and Water
by Ken Haggerty
The Stoffel family of Vermillion Township was recently recognized for their dedication to conservation at the Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts Convention and as a Century Farm.
Wally and Bernadette Stoffel, along with their sons, Greg and Dan, received the 2013 Outstanding Conservationists Award through Dakota County Soil and Water.
The Stoffels installed grassed waterways within their cultivated fields and a 14-acre native prairie planting to reduce soil loss. They also enrolled over 290 acres into Dakota County's Farmland and Natural Area Program. The enrollment will permanently protect a quarter mile of vegetated buffer along the Vermillion River.
The Vermillion has been a site of numerous projects in recent years to restore it to a healthy trout stream.
The Stoffels have also planted a cover crop of radishes, at their own expense, on 80 acres of cultivated land to stabilize the soil, improve soil health, and reduce nitrates from entering surface and groundwater resources.
The radishes are sometimes called the "bio-drill" or the "radish ripper" for their ability to naturally break up compaction and allow for infiltration because of the strong root system they put down.
The Stoffels also are working with the U of M extension on test plots for proper nitrogen fertilizer rates on irrigated ground.
"The Stoffels are a great example of installing conservation practices both with long-term and short-term benefits to our soil and water resources," said Brian Watson, manager of the Dakota County Soil and Water Conservation District. "The Stoffels have demonstrated the willingness to look at new ideas, install conservation practices and participate in research that helps us better understand the relationship between surface water and groundwater."
The Stoffels were also recognized as a Century Farm this year by the Minnesota State Fair program which acknowledges Minnesota farms that have stayed in the same family for over a hundred years.
Wally's grandfather, Peter J. Stoffel, established the farm in 1904. Wally's dad, Marcus, took over the farm in 1933. Wally took over in 1956. Greg and Dan took over two years ago. Wally thinks at least one more generation may be interested in continuing the line.
Wally has been on the board of the Dakota-Stanton Mutual insurance company for 32 years, taking over from Herb Nicolai. He has been a Township Supervisor for 28 years.
The Stoffels are active in Vermillion's St. John's Catholic Church.
The family still feeds some cattle, but got out of milking about 15 years ago.
In addition to Greg and Dan, Wally and Bernie have a son, Mark, who lives close to the home farm, and two daughters, Jeanne (Beskau) and Barb (Bauer), who both live within three miles of the home place. They have ten grandkids.