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Home > Protecting Our Lands & Waters > Clean Water Fund > CWF Program and Project List

Minnesota Department of Agriculture's Clean Water Fund Activities

Impaired Waters Technical Assistance

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 agricultural conservation practices, share information from research and demonstration sites and enhance outreach and education to the agricultural community and local government partners. The MDA also provides in-field technical assistance, project coordination and technical advice for a number of different groups.

Technical assistance fills an important need for field demonstrations and validation of practices. Examples projects and programs in this category:

  • Root River Field to Stream Partnership: Project partners are working to better understand how agricultural practices affect water quality in southeastern Minnesota. This project includes intensive water quality monitoring at the edge of agricultural fields and within streams.
  • Clay County Drainage Site: The Clay County site evaluates the environmental impact of both surface and subsurface drainage from agricultural fields in the Red River Valley, located in northern Minnesota.
  • Discovery Farms Minnesota: Discovery Farms is a farmer-led program to protect water quality. The MDA conducts edge-of-field monitoring to evaluate nutrients and sediment losses on 11 real working farms in different settings across Minnesota.
  • Nutrient Management Initiative (NMI): The NMI assists farmers and crop advisers statewide to evaluate nutrient management practices on their own fields, including comparisons of fertilizer rates, timing, and products. Participating farmers and crop advisers are financially compensated for each field trial. 

For more information, please contact Margaret Wagner at Margaret.Wagner@state.mn.us or 651-201-6488

Nitrate in Groundwater

This funding is used for activities that help identify potential sources of nitrate-nitrogen (nitrate) contamination and evaluate and to reduce nitrate in groundwater. The MDA works with local partners to assess groundwater in agricultural areas and works directly with local farmers and agri-business in the impacted or threatened areas. The MDA also works with University researchers to develop, promote and provide education on Nitrogen Fertilizer Best Management Practices (BMPs).

Examples of programs, projects and activities in this category: 

For more information, please contact Bruce Montgomery at Bruce.Montgomery@state.mn.us or 651-201-6178

Agricultural Research and Evaluation

To date, the MDA has supported 35 research projects to identify processes that affect water quality and evaluate the costs and benefits of specific agricultural practices. Goals of the MDA's Clean Water Research Program are to evaluate the effectiveness of agricultural best management practices (BMPs) and to develop technologies that target BMPs to critical areas of the landscape where they will have the greatest positive impact.

Since 2008, the MDA has announced nine requests for proposals. Any organization, research entity or individual may apply for these funds.


For more information, please contact Margaret Wagner at Margaret.Wagner@state.mn.us or 651-201-6488

Irrigation Water Quality Protection

The MDA passed money through to the University of Minnesota to hire an Extension Irrigation Specialist. Minnesota’s Irrigation Specialist started in June 2014 and is providing education on irrigation management and nitrogen fertilizer best management practices (BMPs). This position is collaborating with public and private entities to develop and demonstrate tools and technology to protect and conserve groundwater resources.


For more information, please contact Bruce Montgomery at Bruce.Montgomery@state.mn.us or 651-201-6178 

Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program  (MAWQCP)

The MAWQCP is designed to accelerate voluntary adoption of on-farm conservation practices that protect Minnesota's water resources. Farmers who implement and maintain approved practices will be certified and in turn assured that their operation meets the state's water quality goals for a period of ten years.  The MAWQCP is available statewide.

For more information, please contact Brad Redlin at Brad.Redlin@state.mn.us  or 651-201-6489

AgBMP Loan Program

The AgBMP Loan Program provides low interest loans to individuals for management practices that restore or protect water quality. Loans must be used toward practices that reduce soil and water erosion and ensure safe manure and waste water management.


For more information, please contact AgBMP.Loans@state.mn.us or 651-201-6618

Pesticide Monitoring & Assessment

Clean Water funding has increased the capability of the MDA's pesticide laboratory in support of groundwater and surface water monitoring. The funding has allowed the MDA to increase the number of detectable pesticides from 44 in 2009 to 133 in 2014, increase the sensitivity of detection of certain pesticides and increase the overall number of samples that can be analyzed on an annual basis. 

Private Well Pesticide Sampling (PWPS) Project: The PWPS Project is a follow-up testing program to the Township Testing Program (TTP). If nitrate is detected in their first TTP sample, homeowners are offered free nitrate and pesticide testing. The MDA anticipates that approximately 6,300 private wells will be tested from 2014-2020. For more information, please contact Jeff Paddock at Jeff.Paddock@state.mn.us or 651-201-6560.


For more information about pesticide monitoring and assessment, please contact Bill VanRyswyk at Bill.Vanryswyk@state.mn.us or 507-344-3203 

Manure Applicator Education

Clean Water funding is being used to develop training manuals and resources for manure applicators and site managers. These educational materials will help ensure that manure is safely handled and properly applied.


For more information, please contact Gary Edwards at Gary.Edwards@state.mn.us or 651-201-6472.

Minnesota Water Research Digital Library

The Minnesota Water Research Digital Library is a user-friendly, searchable inventory of water research relevant to Minnesota. It includes both peer reviewed articles as well as white papers and reports. The Digital Library provides one-stop access to all types of water research.


For more information, please contact Margaret Wagner at Margaret.Wagner@state.mn.us or 651-201-6488