ST. PAUL, Minn. – As farmers wait for the snow to melt and finalize planting plans, the Minnesota Department of Transportation invites them to consider leaving standing corn rows to help control blowing and drifting snow on state highways next winter.
MnDOT pays farmers to leave standing corn rows, hay bales or silage bags to protect selected state roads. Farmers are compensated on a per acre basis for leaving standing corn rows and a per lineal foot basis for strategically stacked bales or silage bags. A typical standing corn row treatment is about a quarter-mile long and one acre in size, with 12 rows of corn left standing. Average compensation to the landowner is about $1,000 per acre for a winter season of blowing snow control protection.
These “living snow fences” can be designed and constructed to fit into individual land use and farming operations. Ears of corn are allowed to be harvested by families, clubs, organizations and church groups.
“Standing corn rows provide a unique opportunity to use a resource that is currently being grown adjacent to our highways to provide blowing snow control,” said Dan Gullickson, MnDOT’s snow control program coordinator. “Farmers play a key role in helping MnDOT quickly deliver preventative snow control treatments while reducing MnDOT’s snow and ice removal costs.”
“The standing corn row program provides opportunities for leadership in, and service to, the community by helping keep local roads open to traffic during blowing snow events,” said Gullickson. “This program is a great example of the rural community coming together and making a difference during the winter driving season.”
This winter MnDOT’s Twin Cities Metro District successfully recruited farmers along the Highway 169 corridor near Belle Plaine who left 4.55 miles of standing corn rows.
“Anyone who travels this highway on regularly will tell you that it has improved over the last few years.” said Bruce Thompson, Shakopee truck station supervisor. “Once the program started, the farmers could see the difference and were soon on board, knowing it would help their own families and the rest of the traveling public.”
“Drifting in this area has gone down to almost zero, thanks to these local land owners,” said Gullickson. “We thank the local farmers who helped MnDOT’s snow control efforts by leaving standing corn rows along the highway.”
Farmers and landowners who want more information about the standing corn row program can contact their local MnDOT district office. Local contact information can be found at www.mndot.gov. Additional information about the program is at www.mndot.gov/environment/livingsnowfence/ or contact Gullickson directly at email@example.com or 651-366-3610.