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.
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.
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.
LEQA is a Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) program to help livestock producers address, using a non-regulatory approach, the unique water quality issues on their farms. The MDA has contracted with Ag Resource Strategies, LLC, to recruit farmers to enroll in the LEQA program. The company trains technicians to assess different areas of each farms, such as the farmstead, livestock facilities, fields and wooded areas. The technicians then develop an environmental assessment and identify financial assistance for these projects.
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 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 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.
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.