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Ten thousand years ago, glaciers moved through the region, dropped the parent
material for our productive agricultural soil and sculpted the topology of the
region. Glacial Lake Agassiz collected the glacial melt water and in one or more
catastrophic floods carved out the Minnesota River valley. The historical hydrology
of the region consisted of isolated potholes and the spring fed river.
Episode Two: Life on the Prairie
The tall grass prairie ecosystem developed with the relationships between soils, bodies
of water, climate, plants, and animals. Settlement in the 1850s marked the beginning of
the end of the tall grass prairie.
Episode Three: The Early Humans
The first inhabitants of the area took advantage of the ecosystem to produce and
collect a wide-variety of foods and medicinal herbs, first as hunter/gatherer societies,
then later as settled villagers.
Episode Four: Cultural Impact
When European settlers began to immigrate to the Minnesota River Basin in the 1850s,
they developed techniques to convert the area for farming, which often clashed with
the Native American culture.
Episode Five: The Rise of Agriculture
The industrial revolution of the early 1900s brought technological advancements to the
fields of the Minnesota River Basin, and continue today with hybrid crop varieties,
fertilizers and herbicides.
Episode Six: Restoring the Prairie
Various government and community groups are working to restore wetlands, tall grass
prairies and the Minnesota River and its tributaries to more complete, functioning systems.
Episode Seven: Climate and Weather
Climate and weather are large factors in the development of the prairie ecosystem and
agricultural success of the region. Yet, there are concerns about the reverse effect
agriculture has on today's climate.
A combination of factors have produced a tremendously productive agricultural
soil-glaciers, tall grass prairies and climate. Today, efforts and methods to
reduce soil erosion are in the forefront of land management.
Episode Nine: The Evolution of Crops
Corn and soybeans have evolved into the principle commodities of choice in the region.
However, efforts by some producers to develop alternative and organic crops are beginning
Episode Ten: Raising Livestock
Ever since early settlers arrived in the region, livestock has been a major part of the
farm's economy. Through time, the approach to raising hogs, cattle and poultry has
changed to meet today's demands.
Episode Eleven: Value-added Agriculture
In today's global marketplace, producers are developing a new trend in agricultural
commodity processing where local producers control the products created with their
commodities for greater economic returns.
Episode Twelve: High-tech Agriculture
The research and development of genetically modified crops, precision agriculture
and biotechnology are providing more options for producers to integrate into their
operation and marketing plans.
Episode Thirteen: The Future
The future of the Minnesota River Basin is uncertain. Issues concerning economics,
the environment, and the future of rural communities are becoming ever more important.
What does the future hold?