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University of Minnesota Extension

Extension > Extension history > Drainage increases tillable farmland

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Drainage increases tillable farmland

Man digging ditch

The 1920s brought an increasing demand for tillable land. Stumps and boulders were a big problem and removing them was slow, difficult and expensive. Extension county agents taught farmers to use low-powered war surplus explosives on these and on constructing drainage channels on poorly drained flatlands.

In 1921, Extension had helped farmers in 22 northeastern Minnesota counties clear 35,000 acres of land, saving $70,000 above other removal costs. Many farmers remember that Extension helped their fathers and grandfathers drain wetlands to grow more crops. Today, Minnesota ranks among the national leaders in both corn and soybean production.

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