The Discovery Farms program is a farmer-led effort to gather field-scale water quality information on different types of farms across Minnesota. The three pillars of the program are farmer leadership, credible research, and communicating results.
The Nitrogen Rate Study on Coarse-Textured Soil (N Rate Study) was done in 2015-2018 by the University of Minnesota (U of M) and Central Lakes College (CLC) at CLC’s farm in Staples, MN. The study examined nitrogen fertilizer rates for corn on sandy soil—with and without irrigation. The study specifically considered potential nitrogen loss from dryland corn versus irrigated corn and was established after the U of M released new nitrogen rate guidelines in early 2015.
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) has designed a Township Testing Program to determine current nitrate-nitrogen concentrations in private wells on a township scale. The MDA has identified townships throughout the state that are vulnerable to groundwater contamination (because of local geology or shallow groundwater) and have significant row crop production. These are the counties that will be prioritized for Township Testing.