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Home > Protecting Our Lands & Waters > Clean Water Fund > On-Farm Projects > Discovery Farms Minnesota > Information Collected

Information Collected at Minnesota Discovery Farms

Each Discovery Farm has water monitoring equipment located at the edge of a field. Equipment is used to measure the amount of water runoff that occurs and the amount of nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment that leaves the field during runoff events.

Water monitoring stations are located on active, commercial farms. They are positioned in low-lying areas of the field so that water naturally flows through a monitoring device called a flume (see image at bottom of page). Fields with subsurface drainage are monitored using specially designed structures that connects with existing drainage tiles.

Overland runoff and tile drainage samples are collected automatically whenever runoff occurs. Monitoring occurs 365 days per year. Additionally, stations continuously collect rainfall, air temperature, wind speed and direction, solar radiation, soil temperature, soil moisture, and relative humidity data. Farm management information is collected by Minnesota Agricultural Water Resource Center (MAWRC) staff. This information is used to help interpret water quality data.

Water samples are tested for:

  • Total suspended solids
  • Total phosphorous
  • Dissolved orthophosphorous
  • Nitrate and nitrite-nitrogen
  • Ammonia-nitrogen
  • Total kjeldahl nitrogen
  • Chloride

Discovery Farms provides an opportunity to educate farmers about management decisions that will improve farm profitability and environmental performance.

Family walking in an alfalfa field Water flowing through an edge-of-field monitoring station

You can access real time monitoring data at the Minnesota Discovery Farms website.