The Minnesota Department of Agriculture developed a diagnostic tool called FANMAP to get a clear understanding of existing farm practices regarding agricultural inputs such as fertilizers, manures and pesticides.
The ability for state agencies and the Extension Service to document producer adoption rates of voluntary Best Management Practices (BMPs) is a critical component of the 1989 Minnesota Groundwater Protection Act. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) developed a diagnostic tool called FArm Nutrient Management Assessment Process (FANMAP) to get a clear understanding of existing farm practices regarding agricultural inputs such as fertilizers, manures and pesticides. Results have been used to design focused water quality educational programs. Data collected in the program's infancy can be used as a baseline to assist in determining if voluntary BMPs are being adopted. Over the years, hundreds of farmers have volunteered two to four hours of their time to share information about their farming operations.
Development of a representative sampling population is critical. In all FANMAP activities, County Educators (Minnesota Extension Service) and Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) staff from the appropriate counties are contacted and individually interviewed. The purpose of the interviews is to inform them of the specifics of the particular project and overall goals; obtain pertinent county information (i.e. locations and demographics); and potential candidates (farmers) and their agronomic management skills as perceived by the County Educator. Educators and SWCD staff are requested to provide producer-farmer contacts. Introduction letters, signed by the Commissioner of Agriculture, are then mailed to potential participants. The letter's intent is to identify the overall project; the purpose of the nutrient assessment; why they have been selected; and what types of information and amount of their time will be necessary to successfully complete the project.
The MDA has conducted surveys of farms in localized areas (several hundred acres) where community water supplies exhibit vulnerability to land use impacts. Four of the studies (Farm Nutrient Management Assessment Process, or FaNMAP studies) included the collection of pesticide use information. Data from the four studies has been combined and summarized in a single report:
Pesticide & Fertilizer Management Division