Statewide Groundwater and Drinking Water Protection

Project Details by Fiscal Year
2020 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$1,766,107
2019 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$1,821,427
2018 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$2,282,890
2017 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$3,155,539
2016 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$2,638,403
2015 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$1,470,444
2014 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$568,960
2013 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$598,942
2012 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$579,100
2010 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$498,583
Fund Source
Clean Water Fund
Recipient
Minnesota Department of Agriculture
Recipient Type
State Government
Status
In Progress
Start Date
July 2009
End Date
June 2024
Activity Type
Demonstration/Pilot Project
Education/Outreach/Engagement
Technical Assistance
Counties Affected
Statewide
Statewide
Project Overview

Nitrate-nitrogen (nitrate) is one of the contaminants of greatest concern for groundwater in Minnesota. This funding is being used for activities that help identify the severity and magnitude of nitrate contamination and implement practices at the local level to reduce nitrate in groundwater. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) is working with many local partners and passing funding through to local government units (counties, cities, soil and water conservation districts) to address this concern.

The MDA works with local partners to assess groundwater in agricultural areas and works directly with local farmers and agri-business to improve water quality in areas where groundwater quality is adversely impacted. The MDA also works with University researchers to develop, promote and provide education on Nitrogen Fertilizer Best Management Practices (BMPs).

Funding will be used for a variety of projects related to groundwater and drinking water protection, including:

  • Responding to areas with elevated nitrate in groundwater
  • Private well monitoring networks (regional assessments) and accelerated private well nitrate testing in sensitive townships
  • Demonstration sites validating nitrogen recommendations (timing, rate, source) and water quality impacts under irrigated agriculture
  • Irrigation and nitrogen management workshops
  • Installation of regional weather stations to help farmers implement irrigation management
  • Nutrient management surveys to evaluate on-farm adoption of BMPs

 

About the Issue

The MDA works on a statewide effort to better understand nitrogen fertilizer use and to promote proper nitrogen management. This page includes examples of these efforts.

Legal Citation / Subdivision
M.L. 2019, 1st Special Session, Chapter 2--S.F. No. 3, Article 2
Appropriation Language

M.L. 2019: (b) $2,585,000 the first year and $2,585,000 the second year are for monitoring and evaluating trends in the concentration of nitrate in groundwater in areas vulnerable to groundwater degradation; promoting, developing, and evaluating regional and crop-specific nutrient best management practices; assessing best management practice adoption; education and technical support from University of Minnesota Extension; grants to support agricultural demonstration and implementation activities, including research activities at the Rosholt Research Farm; and other actions to protect groundwater from degradation from nitrate. This appropriation is available until June 30, 2024.

Measurable Outcome(s)

The Nitrogen Fertilizer Management Plan was revised and updated in 2015 and the Groundwater Protection Rule went into effect in June 2019. The NFMP and GPR are being implemented to address nitrate from fertilizer in groundwater.

Partnerships are established in vulnerable areas in support of groundwater protection

  • 36 local government units on nitrate monitoring and reduction activities
    • 21 projects (SE Volunteer Network, Central Sands Volunteer Network, 18 Level 2 DWSMAs, Precision Irrigation Cost-Share)
  • On average 39% of funds are passed through to local government units and research partners
  • 15 on-farm nitrogen fertilizer BMP evaluation sites

Regional and Township Testing: Approximately 32,880 private well owners have participated in either a one-time (snapshot) or long-term nitrate testing.

               ~ 650-900 of those private wells are tested annually through the Central Sands Private Well

Network and Southeast Volunteer Nitrate Monitoring Network.

  • 32,217 wells private wells in vulnerable townships have been tested through MDA’s Township Testing Program (2013-2019)
  • Work completed in 344 vulnerable townships within 50 counties
  • Overall, 9.1% (2,925) of the 32,217 wells tested in vulnerable areas exceeded the drinking water standard for nitrate
    • 143 townships with ≥ 10% of wells over 10 mg/L nitrate (41%)
    • 68 townships with 5-9 % of wells over 10 mg/L nitrate (20%)
    • 133 townships with <5% of wells over 10 mg/L nitrate (39%)


Groundwater Protection Rule: The MDA has completed a review of the monitoring data received from the Minnesota Department of Health in 2021 and 2022 and determined the following:

  • 8 DWSMAs are designated as Level 1 with nitrate levels at or above 5.4 mg/L but less than 8 mg/L 
  • 21 DWSMAs are designated as Level 2 with nitrate levels at or above 8 mg/L 
  • 10 DWSMAs need more information before a level determination can be made

 

Nitrogen Fertilizer BMPs are revised based on research: U of M nitrogen fertilizer rate studies at two regional locations led to the development of new nitrogen rate guidelines for irrigated corn ("Fertilizing Corn Grown on Irrigated Sandy Soils”)

Twelve applied research and on-farm projects evaluation Best Management Practices (BMPs) (6 on-going)

Rosholt Farm

  • Evaluating Crop Yield and Water Quality Impacts of Nitrogen Management, Cover Crops and Living Mulches in Irrigated Corn and Soybean (PI Fernandez) (on-going)
  • Optimizing Nitrogen and Water Management under Irrigation and Quantifying Water Quality and Crop Yield Impacts (PI Sharma) (on-going)
  • Evaluation and performance of different irrigation scheduling methods and their impact on corn production and nitrate leaching in central sands region of Minnesota (PI Sharma) (completed)

 

Clean Water Research

  • Cover crop effectiveness in a series of farm BMPs, 2012-2019 (PI Lenhart) (completed)
  • The Cover Crops, Water, and Nitrogen Nexus: How do they impact corn and soybean production and the environment? (PI Garcia y Garcia) (completed)
  • The Minnesota Cover Crop Guide (PI Cates) (completed)
  • Adjusting corn nitrogen rates using a preplant nitrate test to reduce potential for N loss in South-Central and Southeastern Minnesota (PI Kaiser) (waiting for final report)
  • Improved Design, Performance, and Implementation of Saturated Buffers (PI Sands) (completed, in review)
  • Development of the nitrogen BMP effectiveness tool for groundwater protection in Minnesota under varying soil types and climatic conditions (PI Mulla & Lazarus) (on-going)
  • Recommendations for residual soil nitrogen testing and N rate adjustment (PI Fernandez) (on-going)
  • USGS Age Dating
  • USGS Predictive N Model


On-Farm Demonstrations (15)

  • Nutrient Management Initiative – Advanced Plots (MDA/Kaiser)
  • Southeast Minnesota Nitrogen BMP Program (MDA/Jeff Vetsch)              

Education and outreach programs help promote Nitrogen Fertilizer BMPs to farmers and crop advisers:

Nutrient management

  • Funding two UM-Extension Educators – Agricultural Water Quality Protection positions
  • Four state-wide conferences reaching over 1,200 attendees (virtual in 2021, both in-person and virtual in 2022) and impacting over 11,675,000 acres (Nitrogen & Nutrient Management)
    • Continuing education credits offered to Certified Crop Advisers
  • Minnesota Irrigators Program: Intensive three-day training program for irrigators and SWCD technical staff on applying nutrient and water BMPs for irrigated crop production.

Weather data and Irrigation management

  • 14 weather stations - Central Minnesota Ag Weather Network (weather info available online in real-time). Stations are now included in the North Dakota Ag Weather Network with greater outreach to irrigators.
    • 17 websites and 2 mobile apps utilize the data from the weather stations
    • 10 counties use weather data as part of an online irrigation scheduling tool in Central Minnesota
    • 17 weather information requests were received from 10 different researchers and technical staff from state agencies and U of M
Legal Citation / Subdivision
M.L. 2019, 1st Special Session, Chapter 2--S.F. No. 3, Article 2
Appropriation Language

M.L. 2019: (b) $2,585,000 the first year and $2,585,000 the second year are for monitoring and evaluating trends in the concentration of nitrate in groundwater in areas vulnerable to groundwater degradation; promoting, developing, and evaluating regional and crop-specific nutrient best management practices; assessing best management practice adoption; education and technical support from University of Minnesota Extension; grants to support agricultural demonstration and implementation activities, including research activities at the Rosholt Research Farm; and other actions to protect groundwater from degradation from nitrate. This appropriation is available until June 30, 2024.

2020 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$1,766,107
Other Funds Leveraged
$0
Direct expenses
$1,541,828
Administration costs
$224,279
Number of full time equivalents funded
11
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s)
  • Number of local government units in partnership on nitrate monitoring and reduction activities
  • Percentage of funds passed through to local government units and research partners
  • Number of Drinking Water Supply Management Areas that participate in mitigation activities through the Groundwater Protection Rule
  • Education and outreach programs to help promote Nitrogen Fertilizer best management practices to farmers and crop advisers
  • Number of applied research and on-farm projects
Measurable Outcome(s)

Partnerships

  • 26 local government units partner with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture on nitrate monitoring and reduction activities
  • 50% of Clean Water Funds are passed through to local government units and research partners

Groundwater Protection Rule

  • Drinking Water Supply Management Areas (DWSMAs) that participate in mitigation activities 
    • 6 DWSMAs are designated as Level 1 with nitrate levels at or above 5.4 mg/L but less than 8 mg/L
    • 17 DWSMAs are designated as Level 2 with nitrate levels at or above 8 mg/L

Best Management Practices (BMPs)

  • Four state-wide conferences promoted Nitrogen Fertilizer BMPs to over 575 farmers and crop advisers, impacting 6,200,000 acres
  • 9 applied research and on-farm projects are evaluating BMPs
Legal Citation / Subdivision
2017 Legislative Session - CONFERENCE COMMITTEE REPORT ON H. F. No. 707 -Legacy Funding -
Appropriation Language

M.L. 2017: (b) $2,085,000 the first year and $2,086,000 the second year are for monitoring and evaluating trends in the concentration of nitrate in groundwater in areas vulnerable to groundwater degradation; promoting, developing, and evaluating regional and crop-specific nutrient best management practices; assessing best management practice adoption; education and technical support from University of Minnesota Extension; grants to support agricultural demonstration and implementation activities; and other actions to protect groundwater from degradation from nitrate. This appropriation is available until June 30, 2022.

2019 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$1,821,427
Other Funds Leveraged
$0
Direct expenses
$1,627,920
Administration costs
$193,507
Number of full time equivalents funded
10.4
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s)

Please refer to the most recent fiscal year.

Measurable Outcome(s)

Please refer to the most recent fiscal year.

Legal Citation / Subdivision
Minnesota Session Laws - 2017, Regular Session, Chapter 91, Article 2, Section 3
Appropriation Language

M.L. 2017: (b) $2,085,000 the first year and $2,086,000 the second year are for monitoring and evaluating trends in the concentration of nitrate in groundwater in areas vulnerable to groundwater degradation; promoting, developing, and evaluating regional and crop-specific nutrient best management practices; assessing best management practice adoption; education and technical support from University of Minnesota Extension; grants to support agricultural demonstration and implementation activities; and other actions to protect groundwater from degradation from nitrate. This appropriation is available until June 30, 2022.

2018 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$2,282,890
Other Funds Leveraged
$0
Direct expenses
$2,058,025
Administration costs
$224,865
Number of full time equivalents funded
10.4
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s)

Please refer to the most recent fiscal year.

Measurable Outcome(s)

Please refer to the most recent fiscal year.

Legal Citation / Subdivision
Minnesota Session Laws - 2015, 1st Special Session, Chapter 2, Article 2, Section 3
Appropriation Language

M.L. 2015: (b) $2,586,000 the first year and $2,585,000 the second year are for monitoring and evaluating trends in the concentration of nitrate in groundwater in areas vulnerable to groundwater degradation; monitoring for pesticides when nitrate is detected; promoting, developing, and evaluating regional and crop-specific nutrient best management practices; assessing best management practice adoption; education and technical support from University of Minnesota Extension; and other actions to protect groundwater from degradation from nitrate. This appropriation is available until June 30, 2018.

2017 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$3,155,539
Other Funds Leveraged
$0
Direct expenses
$2,938,994
Administration costs
$216,545
Number of full time equivalents funded
10.75
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s)

Please refer to the most recent fiscal year.

Measurable Outcome(s)

Please refer to the most recent fiscal year.

Legal Citation / Subdivision
M.L. 2015, First Special Session, Chapter 2, Section 3
Appropriation Language

M.L. 2015: (b) $2,586,000 the first year and $2,585,000 the second year are for monitoring and evaluating trends in the concentration of nitrate in groundwater in areas vulnerable to groundwater degradation; monitoring for pesticides when nitrate is detected; promoting, developing, and evaluating regional and crop-specific nutrient best management practices; assessing best management practice adoption; education and technical support from University of Minnesota Extension; and other actions to protect groundwater from degradation from nitrate. This appropriation is available until June 30, 2018.

2016 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$2,638,403
Other Funds Leveraged
$0
Direct expenses
$2,408,002
Administration costs
$230,401
Number of full time equivalents funded
13.45 (includes 2.6 FTEs working on pesticide sampling in private wells)
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s)

Please refer to the most recent fiscal year.

Measurable Outcome(s)

Please refer to the most recent fiscal year.

Legal Citation / Subdivision
M.L. 2013, Chapter 137, Article 2, Section 3
Appropriation Language

M.L. 2013:(b) $2,500,000 the first year and $2,500,000 the second year are to increase monitoring and evaluate trends in the concentration of nitrates in groundwater in areas vulnerable to groundwater degradation, including a substantial increase of monitoring of private wells in cooperation with the commissioner of health, monitoring for pesticides when nitrates are detected, and promoting and evaluating regional and crop-specific nutrient best management practices to protect groundwater from degradation. Of this amount, $75,000 may be used for accelerating the update for the commercial manure applicator manual.

2015 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$1,470,444
Other Funds Leveraged
$0
Direct expenses
$1,316,568
Administration costs
$153,876
Number of full time equivalents funded
8.2
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s)

Please refer to the most recent fiscal year.

Measurable Outcome(s)

Please refer to the most recent fiscal year.

Legal Citation / Subdivision
M.L. 2013, Chapter 137, Article 2, Section 3
Appropriation Language

M.L. 2013:(b) $2,500,000 the first year and $2,500,000 the second year are to increase monitoring and evaluate trends in the concentration of nitrates in groundwater in areas vulnerable to groundwater degradation, including a substantial increase of monitoring of private wells in cooperation with the commissioner of health, monitoring for pesticides when nitrates are detected, and promoting and evaluating regional and crop-specific nutrient best management practices to protect groundwater from degradation. Of this amount, $75,000 may be used for accelerating the update for the commercial manure applicator manual.

 

2014 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$568,960
Other Funds Leveraged
$0
Direct expenses
$502,683
Administration costs
$66,277
Number of full time equivalents funded
8.2
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s)

Please refer to the most recent fiscal year.

Measurable Outcome(s)

Please refer to the most recent fiscal year.

Description of Funds
FTEs on this page support a number of projects and program activities. Examples include:Township (Nitrate) Testing, Irrigation workshops and on farm nitrogen management program, Developing BMPs at the Rosholt Farm and Dakota County project, Revision and implementation of the Nitrogen Fertilizer Management Plan (NFMP), Statewide surveys on best management practices.
Legal Citation / Subdivision
M.L. 2011, Chapter 6, Article 2, Sec.3
Appropriation Language

M.L.2011: (b) $850, 000 the first year and $850,000 the second year are to increase monitoring and evaluate trends in the concentration of nitrate in groundwater in high-risk areas and regionally and to promote and evaluate regional and crop-specific nutrient best management practices. This appropriation is available until June 30, 2016.

2013 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$598,942
Other Funds Leveraged
$0
Direct expenses
$586,942
Administration costs
$12,000
Number of full time equivalents funded
4
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s)

Please refer to the most recent fiscal year.

Measurable Outcome(s)

Please refer to the most recent fiscal year.

Legal Citation / Subdivision
M.L. 2011, Chapter 6, Article 2, Sec. 3
Appropriation Language

M.L.2011: (b) $850, 000 the first year and $850,000 the second year are to increase monitoring and evaluate trends in the concentration of nitrate in groundwater in high-risk areas and regionally and to promote and evaluate regional and crop-specific nutrient best management practices. This appropriation is available until June 30, 2016.

2012 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$579,100
Other Funds Leveraged
$0
Direct expenses
$567,100
Administration costs
$12,000
Number of full time equivalents funded
4
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s)

Please refer to individual project pages. See "related projects".

Measurable Outcome(s)

Please refer to individual project pages. See "related projects".

Legal Citation / Subdivision
M.L. 2009, Chapter 172, Article 2, Sec. 2
Appropriation Language

M.L. 2009: (c) $375,000 the first year and $750,000 the second year are to increase groundwater and drinking water protection from agricultural chemicals, primarily nutrients.

M.L.2011: (b) $850, 000 the first year and $850,000 the second year are to increase monitoring and evaluate trends in the concentration of nitrate in groundwater in high-risk areas and regionally and to promote and evaluate regional and crop-specific nutrient best management practices. This appropriation is available until June 30, 2016.

2010 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$498,583
Other Funds Leveraged
$0
Direct expenses
$488,043
Administration costs
$10,540
Number of full time equivalents funded
0.2 FTE (2010), 3.2 FTEs (2011)
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s)

Please refer to the most recent fiscal year.

Measurable Outcome(s)

Please refer to the most recent fiscal year.

Description of Funds
$498,583 was allocated in FY10-11. Administration costs reported in FY10 represent the sum from 2010 and 2011.

Note: At the end of the first biennium, $314,232 of the overall $1,125,000 appropriated for Groundwater and Drinking Water Protection was returned because MDA budgeted for indirects but did not charge them.
Project Manager
First Name
Larry
Last Name
Gunderson
Organization Name
Minnesota Department of Agriculture
Street Address
625 Robert Street North
City
St. Paul
State
MN
Zip Code
55155
Phone
651-201- 6168
Email
Larry.Gunderson@state.mn.us
Administered By
Administered by
Location

625 Robert Street North
St. Paul, MN 55155

Phone
651-201-6000
Email the Agency