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 Application Risk Advisory System is web‑based and provides alerts when conditions are favorable for nutrient loss to water, based on soil conditions and National Weather Service forecast models. This system enables farmers and commercial applicators to avoid applications of fertilizer and manure during conditions when the potential for loss to surface water is high.
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 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.
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.
Minnesota ranks #2 in hog production and #1 in sugar beet production in the U.S., generating about 11 million tons of pig manure and over one million tons of sugar processing wastes annually. Presently there are not cost-effective methods available to deal with these waste streams other than land application, which usually results in nutrient runoff into ground and surface water resources.
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.
There are currently more than 21,000 miles of drainage ditches and many thousands of miles of subsurface tile located throughout Minnesota and overseen by over 100 different local drainage authorities. Historically public records of these drainage systems have been maintained primarily in hard copy following differing protocols depending on local requirements. However, this antiquated approach limits the usability and accessibility of public drainage records creating various challenges for drainage management efforts.
Mine stockpiles are unproductive due to soil deficiencies of organic matter, nutrients, and soil organisms, which are essential to supporting healthy plant growth, diversity, and succession. Waste products, including biosolids, composts, and dredged materials, have the potential to be used to address some of these deficiencies and make the lands productive again.
New and innovatively designed greenhouse facilities have the potential to provide sustainable food, fuel, and other products year round by utilizing ecological processes and other practices to integrate production of fish, plants, and algae in a low input, self-sustainable system. The City of Silver Bay and researchers at the University of Minnesota – Duluth are using this appropriation to expand and enhance a demonstration greenhouse facility. Refined techniques developed at the facility have the potential to be transferred and replicated at similar facilities throughout the state.
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.
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.
Minnesota supports over 14 million acres of cropland in grain production. Almost 600,000 tons of synthetic nitrogen fertilizers are needed annually to maintain productivity on this land, which requires the equivalent of 3,000,000 barrels of oil and costs farmers over $400 million dollars per year. This amount of fossil fuel use results in a significant amount of greenhouse gas emissions, while the absence of fossil energy resources in the state means that these synthetic nitrogen fertilizers must be imported into Minnesota from other states and overseas.
The MDA used Clean Water Fund dollars to enhance manure applicator training and education. Funding was used to improve training manuals for site managers and develop curriculum and online certification training for Commercial Animal Waste Technicians (manure applicators).
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.
Terrestrial invasive species are species that are not native to a location and that pose critical ecological and economic challenges once they become established in that location. They come in the form of plants, animals, insects, pathogens, and microbes that can cause harm to natural habitat, urban landscapes, and agricultural systems. The problems posed by terrestrial invasive species continue to grow as existing infestations expand and new exotic species arrive, many of which are poorly understood.
This project was part of a three-state partnership to test, demonstrate and promote a simple, inexpensive and reliable new system for edge-of-field water monitoring. The University of Wisconsin-Platteville Pioneer Farm, in collaboration with UW-Platteville Engineering, has developed a low cost monitoring system that can obtain good quality, edge-of-field monitoring data in agricultural settings. By eliminating unnecessary features and assembling components in-house, the prototype monitoring system derives the majority of cost savings with minimal sacrifice in accuracy.
The Nitrogen Fertilizer Management Plan (NFMP) recognizes that existing best management practices (BMPs) may not adequately protect the groundwater from nitrate contamination in some geologic sensitive areas. The NFMP introduces the concept of alternative management tools (AMTs), which are advanced practices that may be required to protect groundwater or mitigate groundwater contamination.
The Minnesota Nutrient Management Initiative (NMI) was developed to help farmers and crop advisers evaluate management decisions using the farmer's actual field conditions.Participating farmers work with a crop adviser to set up field trials. After completing plot harvest and submitting the required forms, farmers and crop advisers are reimbursed for their time and will receive a summary and analysis of their results.
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 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.
Long-term forest plot datasets are helpful for understanding the changing conditions and ecology of forestland over time. The USDA Forest Service produced statewide forest inventories in 1935, 1953, 1962, 1977, 1990, 2003, 2008, and 2013. Unfortunately, only the data from 1977 to the present is currently easily accessible and available in full.
The Root River Field to Stream Partnership is comprised of farmers, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, the Minnesota Agricultural Water Resource Center, The Nature Conservancy, Fillmore and Mower County Soil and Water Conservation Districts, the Root River SWCD, Monsanto and academic researchers.Together, project partners are addressing the following key questions:What is the range of sediment, nitrogen and phosphorus losses from agricultural fields on real farms in southeast Minnesota?What are the long-term trends and relationships between specific farming practices and water qualit
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.
Production agriculture’s dependence on fossil fuel energy carries significant economic and ecological risks. The energy consumed within livestock facilities alone is the equivalent consumption of several large cities, and agriculture currently contributes approximately 14% of the total greenhouse gas emissions in the state. As consumers increasingly demand low carbon footprint products, adoption of clean energy systems in crop and livestock production would position Minnesota’s agricultural sector with a competitive advantage.
Minnesota has widespread water quality impairments due to nonpoint-source pollution generated by agricultural, urban, and other human-altered lands. Mitigation of these impairments requires implementing best management practices (BMPs) that are designed to limit soil erosion and nutrient transport from lands to receiving waters. Long-term data sets of water quality and land-use history are needed to tease apart the many factors that affect water quality. In particular, data sets that span periods before and after BMP implementation are needed to determine BMP effectiveness.