Ken and Lynnae Hess, of Horseshoe Grove Bison Farm, named 2021 Outstanding Conservationists for Kandiyohi County

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Jan. 7—WILLMAR — The Kandiyohi County Soil and Water Conservation District announced that Ken and Lynnae Hess, of Horseshoe Grove Bison Farm, were named 2021 Outstanding Conservationists for Kandiyohi County, according to a news release from the organization.

According to the release, in 2012 the two moved back to Lynnae's 74-year-old family farm located in Irving Township in northeast Kandiyohi County. With the desire of owning bison, the two joined the Minnesota Bison Association and attended Grass Works conferences to better educate themselves on bison and grass/forage management.

Their herd started in 2013 with 13 bison. They have since grown their herd to 70 bison. Their operation consists of 178 acres of pasture and cropland.

From the beginning, the Hesses have worked with the Natural Resources Conservation Service through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program to develop a rotational grazing plan consisting of 14 paddocks The bison are moved to a new paddock every two to four days, depending on time of year and the growth of the grass.

The cropland acres are certified organic and rented out. These acres are included in the grazing rotation as well; the crop residue is grazed in the fall and the cover crops in the spring.

The meat produced by their bison is sold locally and at several farmers markets. In addition to Bison, Ken and Lynnae Hess raise free range chickens and tend honeybee hives on the farm.

In 2020, the farm became Minnesota Ag Water Quality Certified. This certification is a voluntary program aimed at assisting landowners to implement and maintain water quality practices and standards on their property.

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