Landowners asked to help keep snow off local roads this winter
MnDOT encourages farmers to join the Standing Corn Rows program to improve safety
ST. PAUL, Minn. — As farmers prepare to harvest their crops this fall, they should consider leaving a few rows of standing corn to help control blowing and drifting snow, as well as improve visibility, on Minnesota roads this winter, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation.
MnDOT pays farmers to leave standing corn rows, hay bales or silage bags to protect selected state roads. Farmers are compensated per acre for leaving standing corn rows and per lineal foot for strategically stacked bales or silage bags. A typical standing corn row treatment is about a ¼ 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.
This “living snow fence” 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 already being grown adjacent to our highways to provide blowing snow control,” said Dan Gullickson, MnDOT’s snow control program coordinator. “They help MnDOT quickly deliver snow control treatments while reducing the state’s snow and ice removal costs.”
It takes less than two weeks to have a signed agreement between the farmer and the local MnDOT district office.
In a recent survey, conducted by the University of Minnesota Extension, farmers who participated in MnDOT’s standing corn row program were asked why they took part in the program. In many cases participants recognized that blowing snow was a problem on their roads in the winter and saw the benefits of the program. Respondents often mentioned that they felt good about doing something that helped their community by providing a “safe zone” on the highways along their fields.
One respondent to the survey said, “We get a lot of compliments from people. Businessmen, nurses and teachers all use that road to get across town. They appreciate the clearer driving. They are especially grateful if there is a big storm.”
“The standing corn row program provides opportunities for leadership in, and service to, the community by helping keep local roads open to traffic during 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.”
Last winter MnDOT’s Twin Cities Metro District successfully recruited farmers along the Highway 169 corridor near Belle Plaine to leave 4.34 miles of standing corn rows.
“This is the first time that a corridor approach to managing blowing snow along this plow route was achieved,” said Tony Johnson, Shakopee Truck Station supervisor, who led the Highway 169 recruitment efforts. “We’re glad to see that it will be matched again for the 2017-2018 winter.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-366-3610.