The MDA is in the process of approving Alternative Management Tools (AMTs) to reduce or mitigate loss of nitrate-nitrogen from crop production to groundwater. Approved AMTs are practices and activities that go beyond the traditional nitrogen fertilizer best management practices (BMPs) and have well documented reductions for nitrate-nitrogen leaching.

Under the Groundwater Protection Rule, each approved AMT will be evaluated to determine if it can be used as a substitute for the adoption of specific nitrogen fertilizer BMPs within Level I and Level 2 Drinking Water Supply Management Areas (DWSMAs). The complete list of BMPs and approved AMT substitutions is currently under development and will be available on the "AMT Substitutions for BMPs" page once it has been updated. General information about Approved AMTs is currently available.

AMT Suggestions

The MDA encourages stakeholders to suggest new AMTs to be evaluated and added to the list. Upon review of new AMTs the MDA will approve, approve with condition, or reject the proposed AMTs. Anyone can suggest a practice, system, or service to be added to the list, including producers, local advisory team members, industry, service providers or other stakeholders. New AMTs can be suggested by contacting the MDA’s AMT coordinator by email, phone, in-person (see “Contact Us”), or online using the AMT Suggestion Form.

AMT Suggestion and Review Process

Step Action 
1 The requestor notifies the MDA of the proposed AMT via email, phone, in-person during a Local Advisory Team meeting, or online AMT Suggestion Form.
2 The MDA will identify and review available information about the AMT. The MDA may contact the requestor in case more information is needed. If the suggested AMT is a specific product, system, or service, additional information may be required to demonstrate nitrate reduction.*
3 The MDA will determine the water quality protection benefits and specify conditions if any.
4 The MDA will notify the requestor and, if approved, update the list of approved AMTs.

*A requestor from a company or service provider must provide scientific data to show water quality benefits for the proposed product, system, or service. Scientific data is required to substantiate all claims and/or to provide evidence of usefulness or value for improving water quality when the product is used as recommended or directed. Acceptable as authentic scientific evidence or university research data is research from Land Grant universities, USDA and other reputable research organizations. The experimental evidence must relate to conditions in this state (environmental, application rates, soil etc.) for which the product, system, or service is intended and must correspond to the actual product, system, or service intended to be approved. The research report(s) must include at a minimum the materials and methods, results, an appropriate statistical analysis, and discussion. Other information sources including but not limited to; abstracts, incomplete articles, literature reviews, testimonials, news articles, pictures and fact sheets are not accepted as evidence in evaluating benefits.

AMT Evaluation Process

For each proposed AMT, the MDA will assess the water quality benefits of the AMT and produce a short report with the discussion of limitations, uncertainties, or specific conditions under which the practice should be used.

The assessment is based on relevant or pertinent information including:

  • Review of scientific literature
  • Computer modeling
  • Consultation with University of Minnesota or other regional agricultural research experts
  • Input from agricultural industry and commodity group leaders
  • Other relevant sources of information, such as research trial data

Criteria for the AMT assessment

Documented direct nitrate leaching loss reduction benefits, or criteria based on indirect groundwater quality benefits such as:

  • Improved crop nitrogen use efficiency,
  • Reduced nitrogen (N) application rate
  • Greater N uptake by crop
  • Greater N immobilization, or
  • Reduced residual soil nitrogen.