Statewide: May 23, 2012 Archive
Posted at 4:00 PM on May 23, 2012
by Dan Olson
Filed under: Minnesota Sounds & Voices
The Lake is an inviting and unforgiving body of water, especially for the needle-like sculls powered by Mark and Tom.
One big wave could mean an unplanned and life threatening dip in 40-degree water.
Most of the time the rowers stay in Superior Bay, the sheltered tip of the the Lake that laps up against Superior and Duluth, the Twin Ports. It's still water that's plenty cold with some waves but a bit easier to navigate. Once in awhile, Tom says, on very nice days, the rowers head out to the big lake, with a keen eye, obviously, on the weather.
Mark and Tom use the 126-year-old Duluth Rowing Club as their base.
I encountered them on a recent jaunt to Duluth as they were finishing up a rowing session on a very fine northern Minnesota day.
(Photo courtesy of Dan Humburg, South Dakota State University)
A research scientist in western Minnesota is testing a new approach to weed control for organic farms. His idea is to cut the weeds down with a fine grit propelled through specially designed compressed air nozzles.
U.S. Agriculture Department research agronomist Frank Forcella, based in Morris, said he came up with the concept a few years ago:
"It seemed like a crazy idea," he said. "But it simply wouldn't leave my mind."
Early tests with a hand-held nozzle proved the sandblasting concept worked. But instead of sand, Forcella uses a softer, organic product: ground corn cobs. The material is powerful enough to kill the weeds but not harm young corn, soybean or other plants.
A team at South Dakota State University in Brookings is building a four-row prototype (above). Forcella hopes to begin field testing it later this month.
Organic farmers don't use chemical weed killers, so they largely rely on plowing to keep unwanted plants down. Forcella said if his concept works, farmers may get an added bonus. He said instead of corn cobs, farmers could use nutrient-rich material like ground alfalfa or canola seed meal. Besides killing weeds, the grit would also help fertilize the growing crop.