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.
The Clay County Drainage Site is designed to evaluate the environmental impact of both surface and subsurface drainage from agricultural fields. This site includes six subsurface plots and one surface runoff plot, each approximately 24 acres in size. Monitoring stations are fully automated and each individual plot is monitored separately.The soils and topography across this demonstration site are virtually identical and represent field characteristics common in the most productive agricultural areas of the Red River Valley.
Grassland ecosystems evolved to depend on periodic disturbances, such as fire and grazing, to maintain their health and stability. Periodic disturbances help control invasive species, add nutrients back into the soil, germinate plant seeds, enhance wildlife habitat, and more. In Minnesota habitat managers have used fire as a disturbance tool for decades but the use of grazing has been much rarer, mostly because of a lack of necessary infrastructure such as fencing.
The Discovery Farms program is a farmer-led effort to gather information on soil and nutrient loss on farms in different settings across Minnesota. The mission of Discovery Farms Minnesota is to gather water quality information under real-world conditions.
Minnesota has 9.5 million acres of public forest lands that play an important role in sustaining Minnesota’s environment and economy. The policies and programs used by public timber sale programs can impact post-harvest ecological conditions and have pronounced effects on the composition, structure, and productivity of the forest in the future. Additionally, timber harvesting revenues play an important role in economic activity, employment, and tax revenue.
Over 527,000 acres of unmanaged woodlands are being used for livestock grazing throughout Minnesota. Managing these grazed woodlands based on the use of best management practices can provide environmental and economic opportunities, including improved water quality, maximized forage production, and higher-quality timber. The best management practices involved are commonly used in other parts of the country with other types of ecosystems, but have not been widely adopted in Minnesota due to a lack of knowledge and experience with implementing them within the ecosystems of Minnesota.
Minnesota has 15.9 million acres of forest land managed by a variety of county, state and federal agencies, and private landowners for timber production, wildlife habitat, and ecological considerations. Forest managers rely on inventory data to make effective planning and management decisions. Because forests are continually changing through natural and human processes, forest inventory data is periodically updated. However, doing so is an expensive and time-consuming endeavor and, as a result, much of Minnesota’s forest inventory data is currently out of date.
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 Department of Agriculture (MDA) has partnered with the East Otter Tail Soil and Water Conservation District (EOT SWCD) to carry out a series of workshops and expand programs that promote proper water and nitrogen management.
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 objective of the project is to demonstrate controlled drainage and saturated buffers as flood mitigation practices as well as their water quality and quantity benefits. The project is intended to set a compelling example to increase the acceptance and adoption of drainage water management practices in the Red River Valley.Surface and subsurface runoff will be monitored, and water samples will be collected and analyzed for nitrate-nitrogen. Installations were completed in 2015-2016.