The MDA has received the Report on the Groundwater Protection Rule from the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). This report approves the primary provisions of the proposed Groundwater Protection Rule. The MDA will review the ruling and consider the appropriate changes as recommended by the ALJ to the proposed rule.

A comment period was open from April 30 to August 22, 2018. The comment period was conducted by an ALJ and all comments were submitted to the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH). During this time five public hearings were held around the state. Over 3,000 comments were submitted during the comment period. There were 92 written comments, 40 people testified at five rule hearings and over 2,900 form letters submitted to OAH. There were an additional six comments submitted during the rebuttal period.

Comments submitted during the comment period can be viewed on OAH's rulemaking website.

Comments submitted during the rebuttal period can also be viewed on the OAH's rulemaking website.

Proposed rule documents

*A number of web addresses in the SONAR and rule have recently changed. Please view the Updated Links (PDF) to access the references listed.


Background Information

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) has released the proposed Groundwater Protection Rule. The purpose of the rule is to minimize potential fertilizer sources of nitrate pollution to the state’s groundwater and protect our drinking water. This proposed rule reflects a revision of the draft Nitrogen Fertilizer Rule that was released in June 2017.  The MDA made changes to the June 2017 draft of the rule as a result of public feedback. A copy of the proposed Groundwater Protection Rule and the Statement of Need and Reasonableness is available by clicking on the first links above.

Additional Resources


What has changed from the Summer 2017 draft to the Proposed Rule?

    June 2017 April 2018

Part 1

Statewide Restrictions on Nitrogen Fertilizer Application in the Fall and on Frozen Soil

Vulnerable Groundwater Area Definition Areas with vulnerable groundwater were defined using a method that measured how water moved through a 5 foot soil profile (Ksat) and karst geology Areas with vulnerable groundwater defined based on USDA NRCS soil maps and karst geology
Field Determination Criterion Used full sections of land to determine if Part 1 of the rule applied to individual fields Uses quarter-sections of land to determine if Part 1 of the rule applies to individual fields
County-level exclusions Provided no county-level exclusions Excludes counties based on their low risk for nitrate contamination in groundwater due to climate and minimal row crops.

Part 2

Mitigation Efforts

Eligibility Criterion Applied to both townships and DWSMAs Applies to DWSMAs




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