The goals of the program are to evaluate the effectiveness of agricultural conservation practices, identify underlying processes that affect water quality, and develop technologies to target critical areas of the landscape. Funded projects provide current and accurate scientific data on the environmental impacts of agricultural practices and help to develop or revise agricultural practices that reduce environmental impacts while maintaining farm profitability.
The purpose of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture's monitoring activities is to determine the presence and concentration of pesticides in Minnesota's groundwater and surface water. Monitoring information is used to characterize and assess the extent of pesticide impacts to Minnesota's water resources.
"Precision conservation" means targeting conservation practices to places on the landscape where they will be most effective. It's about getting the right practices in the right place, at the right scale.
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture has partnered with the USDA National Agricultural Statistic Service (NASS) and University of Minnesota researchers to collect information about fertilizer use and farm management. Partners have pioneered a survey tool for characterizing fertilizer use and farm management on a regional and statewide scale. Surveys are conducted over the phone. NASS staff are highly skilled at obtaining critical information over the phone with minimal time and burden on the producer.
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's technical assistance helps ensure that current and accurate scientific information is made available and used to address water quality concerns in agricultural areas of Minnesota. This funding has been used to evaluate the effectiveness of conservation practices, share information from research and demonstration sites and enhance outreach and education to the agricultural community and local government partners.