Principal Investigators: Dennis Busch, Bill VanRyswyk and Mark Tomer
Organization(s): University of Wisconsin-Platteville Pioneer Farm, Minnesota Department of Agriculture, and Agricultural Research Service USDA, Iowa
Sponsor: CIG Grant, USDA
Award Amount: $625,281
Start Date: 9/15/2011 | End Date: 9/15/2015
Project Coordinator: Matt Ribikawskis (Matthew.Ribikawskis@state.mn.us)
FINAL REPORT is available in the Minnesota Water Research Digital Library
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, developed an innovative, low cost monitoring system that obtains good quality edge-of-field monitoring data in production 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. This project was a coordinated effort between scientists and organizations in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa. The Minnesota portion of the project was conducted in six counties throughout southeastern Minnesota.
The purpose of this project was to promote edge-of-field surface water quality monitoring and to test a prototype monitoring system designed to reduce cost and technical barriers. To achieve the project goals, the following objectives were defined.
Edge-of-field monitoring provides information about the amount of runoff, soil and nutrients moving off a given field into an adjacent waterway. This site –specific information can be used to inform farm management decisions. In response to both the value and interest in edge-of-field data, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) created an interim standard to provide funding for producers, but the high costs associated with conventional gauging of edge-of-field monitoring may deter effective use of this practice.
Conventional gauges provide good overall accuracy (estimated error range of 9.7 to 21%) with a set-up cost of approximately $20,000 per site and operational costs of approximately $25,000 per year. The expected error for the prototype gauge is slightly higher with values ranging from 13 to 23%, but projected costs are significantly less ($4,000 equipment and $10,000 annual operating costs). This cost savings could make edge-of-field monitoring more accessible to individuals and organizations across Minnesota.
Prototype monitoring systems will be installed in Wabasha, Dodge, Rice, Goodhue, Winona and Olmstead counties, which are located in southeastern Minnesota.
In Minnesota, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture is working cooperatively with Dodge County Environmental Services, The Nature Conservancy and Goodhue, Rice, Dodge and Fillmore County Soil and Water Conservation Districts.
The new system for edge-of-field water monitoring was tested on a variety of landscapes and cropping systems.
All sites were installed with equipment that demonstrates and tests the new methodology. Sampling and gauging protocols were tested at all eight locations using two comparison set-ups. One monitoring location is directly behind or in-line with a conventional gauge. The remaining seven sites have conventional equipment mounted in the same flume as the prototype equipment. By installing the prototype gauging stations in conjunction with a conventional monitoring system, flow, concentration, and load data can be compared to determine if results from the prototype gauge differ significantly from the conventional gauge. Table 1 describes the components utilized in each system.
Table 1. Component Specifications
The equipment set-ups at the Minnesota monitoring stations were unique to the project. All 8 sites had two sets of equipment (prototype and conventional monitoring equipment) to assess the prototype monitoring equipment. Data from the Minnesota sites were analyzed, compiled into a report and sent to the University of Wisconsin-Platteville to be included in the larger report of results from monitoring stations in Iowa and Wisconsin.
In addition to the quantitative data collected at the monitoring stations, the MDA created a qualitative survey for project partners to provide their comments on how the prototype system worked compared to the conventional system. Highlights from the Minnesota sites below:
Conventional and prototype monitoring systems within the same flume
Conventional and prototype monitoring systems "in-line" with one another (one monitoring system set up right behind the other)
Project partner survey highlights
Matthew.Ribikawskis@state.mn.us ~ 507-206-2884
Supervisor, Clean Water Technical Assistance Unit
Margaret.Wagner@state.mn.us ~ 651-201-6488