Sedlachek Family Farms, operated under a partnership between Freddy Mogensen and Brian Sedlachek, has recently joined the rising number of farms becoming certified as Minnesota stewards of water quality through the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program (MAWQCP) - a voluntary process that certifies producers using conservation-minded practices to protect water quality throughout Minnesota.
The farming operation first began over 70 years ago, when Charles (Bud) Sedlachek, moved onto the land in southern Crow Wing County to start a dairy operation and eventually built up 500 acres of cropland. As Bud grew older, the main dairy cow operations were passed down to his nephew, while Bud focused on the cropland. Soon afterward, fellow farmer and friend, Freddy Mogensen, became a hired hand to help Bud with the field work by cutting and baling their hay ground. After 15 years, Sedlachek Family Farms joined a partnership with Mogensen and officially become an LLC in 2019, just three years before the passing of 83-year-old Bud.
Today, Sedlachek and Mogensen conventionally grow corn, soybeans, oats, and hay in their farming operation and sow cover crops mixtures after the harvest season that will winterkill. Additionally, Sedlachek Family Farms hopes to rebuild the farm’s old dairy pasture for Mogensen’s own beef cattle operation and utilize cover crops to extend the grazing season.
Cover crops can be defined as any non-cash crop grown to the primary cash crop. These crops have the potential to increase soil organic matter, reduce erosion, improve soil structure, and promote water infiltration. Mogensen stated he has already witnessed these benefits since incorporating this conservation practice into the farming system.
“When we rented equipment, Bud always said to return items as good or in better shape than the way they were given to us,” Mogensen said. “And I wanted to take that mindset a step further, extending it toward the environment so future generations can enjoy it.”
After some local encouragement from the Co-op to become recognized for their conservation mindset and practices, Sedlachek Family Farms applied for the Minnesota Agriculture Water Quality Certification Program and became water quality certified on March 1, 2023.
“Becoming MAWQCP certified means the things we’re doing to help the environment are validated,” Mogensen said.
In the future, Mogensen is hoping to switch Sedlachek Family Farms from conventional to strip tillage to become more efficient in applying fertilizer and planting cover crops while also aiding in preventing erosion and protecting water quality. Strip-till is a conservation practice that minimizes tillage by only disturbing a portion of the soil to sow the seed rows. However, not many farmers around Sedlachek’s farming operation currently practice strip-till, making it difficult for Mogensen to find rentable equipment. But that won’t stop him from his search nor desire to protect natural resources.
“Though the (MAWQCP) program is not for everybody, it does show incitive to do things differently for the benefit of the environment,” Mogensen said. “We’re just doing the best we can with what we have.”
Congratulations again to both Freddy and Brian for achieving water quality certification on their land in Crow Wing County!