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Home > Ag Chemicals & Fertilizers > Pesticides > Monitoring & Assessment for Agricultural Chemicals in the Environment > Edge-of-Field Water Quality Monitoring

Edge-of-Field Water Quality Monitoring

Map of Minnesota illustrating the 2017 edge-of-field monitoring locations.Edge-of-field (EOF) monitoring projects are designed to collect accurate measurements of sediment, nitrogen and phosphorus movement over the soil surface and through subsurface drainage tiles. This work leads to a better understanding of the relationship between agricultural management and water quality.


EOF monitoring began in Minnesota in 1997 with three sites as a part of the Red Top Tile Drainage Demonstration. Since then, EOF monitoring has been conducted as a part of seven unique projects:

The MDA along with cooperators and partners, is responsible for installing and maintaining equipment to collect water quality, flow, meteorological and other project specific data.

Number of Monitoring Sites

  • Since 2009, MDA has increased the number of EOF monitoring sites from 7 to 38 sites
  • Monitoring sites stretch across the different types of agricultural areas of Minnesota

Bar graph illustrating the number of edge-of-field monitoring sites from 1997 to 2016. All years have subsurface tile monitoring, surface monitoring was added in 2009. The number of sites began a steady increase in 2009, decreasing slightly in 2016.


Graph illustrating the average total suspended solids (lb/acre) and the average precipitation (inchers) found at the edge-of-field monitoring sites. Averages are calculated by month for 2010-2016. Both measurments peak in June.The graph displays the average monthly sediment losses (lb/acre) and precipitation (inches) for all four Root River Field to Stream Partnership EOF surface water monitoring sites from 2010-2016.

The collection of this data provides a useful tool to help inform the public and work with landowners to reduce nutrient and sediment pollution.

Best Management Practice Installation

The data collected through EOF monitoring help to better understand the relationship between agriculture management and water quality. These data help inform the discussion about ways to improve water quality by installing best management practices (BMPs) throughout the landscape. The table provides BMPs that have been or will be installed throughout three sub-watersheds within the Root River watershed. These actions are a result of the data collected as part of the Root River Field to Stream Partnership.

Table 1: Best Management Practices (BMPs) and Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) Practice Standards Installed as Part of the Root River Field to Stream Partnership

  BMPs / NRCS Practice Standards Structural Improvements
Pond Structure
Grass Waterway
Contour Strip Cropping
Cover Crops
Feedlot Fix Sediment Removal
Existing practices
(prior to April 2016)
62 61,045 211,806 2,046 355 215    
Practices installed
(May 2016 - June 2017)
8   65,325   109 270 1 15,000*
Planned practices
(July 2017 - Dec. 2019)
7   25,000 10   440 2  
Total 77 61,045 302,131 2,056 464 925  3 15,000

*Sediment removal behind a filled WASCOB.  

MDA Contact

Bill VanRyswyk
Hydrologist Supervisor