MnDOT: Standing Corn Rows Improving Road Safety Across State

April 20, 2018 05:47 PM

Corn may not be a winter crop, but it is making winter safer along rural highways throughout the state, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

Take, for instance, a formerly-treacherous stretch of Highway 169 just south of Belle Plaine.


"A lot of accidents. A lot of people in the ditch," farmer Mark Koepp said, describing past winters. "We had a tough time even getting to our hog barns here."

RELATED: Warmer Weather Can't Come Soon Enough for Minnesota Farmers

But eventually the farmers had enough, joining together to create 4.5 miles of standing corn rows, left in place to block blowing snow.

Even this late in the season, with the roads nearly clear of snow, there's still a good four feet of snow trapped between Koepp's corn rows, which he said would've ended up on the highway otherwise.

"Or in a ditch next to it and clogging up the lanes," he added.

There are now about 30 miles of standing corn rows throughout the state, according to MnDOT, but they'd like to see that number grow.

"Farmers who have left these standing corn rows over the winter months here are really doing a service for you and I," Snow Control Program Coordinator Dan Gullickson said.

He added that's it's not just a safety issue either.

"It helps us reduce the need to bring in the extra equipment. Bringing in the dozers, the blowers. That extra heavy equipment, that takes fuel and takes labor to operate," Gullickson said.

In other words, it's a win-win situation for the crews cleaning the highways, and for those of us who use them.

"We want safety," Koepp said. "You know that's part of the game." 

MnDOT does pay farmers to leave standing corn rows. They said average compensation is about $1,000 per season.

To learn more about the program, you can click here.


Josh Rosenthal

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