Friday, August 12, 2011

Field Day update

Here's a little updated information on the Field Day- it's looking like attendance will be great, and even the weather seems to be cooperating. This is a version of the press release we sent out:

Press Release: For Immediate Release 8/10/11


20th Field Day; 30+ Years Of Progress With New Sustainable Crops

If you’ve ever heard anyone say the word “hazelnuts”, in the Midwest, it’s a sure bet they’re talking about the hybrids developed first by Badgersett Research Farm, in Fillmore County. Unknown to many, Badgersett has also been developing two other crops, for the same 30+ years; hybrid chestnuts, which they claim will someday be comparable to corn as a mainstream crop, and hybrid hickories, now in the early years of showing what they can do.

“This 20th Annual Field Day is a fantastic chance for folks to see the realities involved in these new crops. At this point, with 5 universities picking up our hybrid hazelnut research, some of the information floating around can be conflicting. Very simply- our plantings are the oldest, by decades; besides being the largest, by tens of thousands, and the most diverse.” says Philip Rutter, Badgersett Research Corporation founder and CEO. “The USDA has just invested $1.3 Million in hybrid hazel research; a grant awarded to a collaboration by 3 universities, and based on the promise these new hybrids have as a crop that can be grown for energy and food- both, at the same time. We’re delighted. But managing a crop you plant once in 50 years is very different from corn and beans. The plants still surprise us, every year. For people who are interested, there’s just no substitute for seeing the fields, first hand.”

Badgersett’s hybrid hazelnuts are touted by many as a replacement for soybeans - in terms of markets, hazels can do anything soybeans can, and more. “They’re 60% oil, and the oil is chemically the twin of olive oil; so you can understand the interest.” says Rutter. “It actually tastes better than olive oil, in our opinion- plus; we burn it in our diesel engines.” Only for demonstration purposes at this point, he smiles, “Diesel is still cheaper, but the hazel oil smells better.” The hybrid chestnuts are producing wood as well as nuts now (“We’re drowning in woody biomass!” Rutter wails.) and the hybrid hickories are coming on strong; “The hickories are going to be important very soon,” Rutter says, “The same machines used for the pecan crop will work for these hybrids, so we don’t have to invent anything. Plus we can grow them in Minnesota- where pecans freeze out.”

Guided tours start at 10 AM, and run into the late afternoon. Visitors are welcome to bring a picnic lunch, and folks traveling from greater distances are welcome to camp overnight, before and after. “We usually have folks coming from 2 and 3 states away”, Rutter says, “all we can offer is primitive campsites, but it’s a growing phenomenon.”

This year’s Field Day has 3 areas of focus; on-farm cloning techniques, the off-grid solar greenhouse, and the integration of animals with the crops. “We’re working on pastured poultry in the hazels, and using horses and sheep to control grass in the chestnuts and hickories. So far- we think we need more animals.” says Rutter. “The idea is to use tools to control grass and weeds that have some chance of producing income- instead of just paying for tractors and diesel fuel forever. Even at the small test scales we’re using; it’s looking promising.” One of the things to see: “The hazel rows where we’ve been pasturing poultry for 2 years look better than any on the farm; they’re gorgeous. Better than expected, in fact.” grins Rutter; “Much better. Now we need to figure out why. It’s not just the nitrogen, we’ve proven that.”

Badgersett’s first Field Day was held in 1991, funded by a grant from the Minnesota Dept. of Agriculture. “The Field Day has really grown over the years; at this point we’re working on turning it into a one day Local Food / Sustainable Agriculture Fair. All our fellow members of the Lanesboro Local market ( have been invited to come and sell their wares at the Field Day; we have hopes of a great turnout. Our Amish neighbors will be there, selling baked goods and more, and this year we’ve added music; the well known local country duet, Brother Music, Sister Rhythm ( will be playing for us during the midday.” Rutter says. “That’s the direction we want the Field Day to go- a solid community and family event.”

The regional Clean Energy Resource Team ( is bringing a group for a special tour of the greenhouse, which may just be the oldest off-grid business in the state.

Hazelnut, chestnut, and hickory plants WILL be available for sale this year; for the first time in several years.

A map to the Farm can be downloaded from the Farm website:, or is available by searching Google Maps for “Badgersett Farm”. Updates on Field Day events at:

1 comment:

  1. > poultry ... not just the nitrogen

    Is there a difference in where nitrogen from chickens goes, versus chemical fertilizer?

    I noticed and (cursory skim reading by amateur) it seems to focus on getting nitrogen into leaves; but do the woody plants build more roots preferentially?

    I realize you don't want chickens with radioactive tracers fertilizing your trees; how else can you compare chicken to chemical sources?

    Of course, if you could get the commercial chemical fertilizers to scratch the ground and selectively remove bugs and pull up weeds around the plants ... hmmm ....