The AgBMP Loan Program provides needed funding for local implementation of clean water practices at an extremely low cost, is unique in its structure and is not duplicated by any other source of funding.The AgBMP loan program provides 3% loans through local lenders to farmers, rural landowners, and agriculture supply businesses.
A multi-partner effort has begun to study the amount of nitrate-nitrogen (nitrate) leaching loss that occurs below an agricultural field recently converted from timber land to irrigated row crop production. The landowner has made the property and their staff available to better understand the deep drainage and nitrate leaching dynamics following this type of land use change. This study is unique.
The MDA partnered with the USDA National Agricultural Statistic Service (NASS) and University of Minnesota researchers to collect information about fertilizer use and farm management. Surveys were conducted over the phone. NASS staff are highly skilled at obtaining critical information over the phone with minimal time and burden on the producer.In 2011, the survey focused on the southeast region of Minnesota. The survey was designed to gather information about nitrogen fertilizer rates, timing of nitrogen application and use of nitrogen inhibitors.
Funding supports an Irrigation Specialist to develop guidance and provide education on irrigation and nitrogen best management practices (BMPs). In this position, Dr. Vasu Sharma provides direct support to irrigators on issues of irrigation scheduling and soil water monitoring. She is collaborating on the development of new irrigation scheduling tools that help irrigators manage water and nitrogen resources more precisely. These tools help reduce nitrogen leaching losses in irrigated cropping systems.
The Minnesota Ag Water Quality Certification Program (MAWQCP) is a voluntary opportunity for farmers and agricultural landowners to take the lead on implementing conservation practices that protect water quality. Those who implement and maintain approved conservation practices will be certified and in turn obtain regulatory certainty for a period of ten years. This program will help address concerns about changing regulatory requirements from multiple state and federal agencies.
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.