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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.