Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program (MAWQCP)

The MAWQCP is designed to accelerate voluntary adoption of on-farm conservation practices that protect Minnesota's water resources. Farmers who implement and maintain approved practices will be certified and in turn assured that their operation meets the state's water quality goals for a period of ten years. The MAWQCP is available statewide.

For more information, please contact Brad Redlin at Brad.Redlin@state.mn.us  or 651-201-6489

Nitrate in Groundwater

This funding is used for activities that help identify potential sources of nitrate-nitrogen (nitrate) contamination and evaluate how to reduce nitrate in groundwater. The MDA works with local partners to assess groundwater in agricultural areas and works directly with local farmers and agri-business in the impacted or threatened areas. The MDA also works with University researchers to develop, promote and provide education on Nitrogen Fertilizer Best Management Practices (BMPs).

Examples of programs, projects and activities in this category: 

For more information, please contact Larry Gunderson at Larry.Gunderson@state.mn.us or 651-201-6168

Irrigation Water Quality Protection

The MDA passed money through to the University of Minnesota to hire an Extension Irrigation Specialist. This position is collaborating with public and private entities to develop and demonstrate tools and technology to protect and conserve groundwater resources.

For more information, please contact Jeppe Kjaersgaard at Jeppe.Kjaersgaard@state.mn.us or 651-201-6149

Technical Assistance and On-Farm Demonstrations

The MDA's technical assistance helps ensure that current and accurate scientific information is made available and used to address water quality concerns in agricultural areas of Minnesota. This funding has been used to evaluate the effectiveness of agricultural conservation practices, share information from research and demonstration sites and enhance outreach and education to the agricultural community and local government partners.

Technical assistance fills an important need for field demonstrations and validation of practices. Examples of projects and programs in this category:

  • Root River Field to Stream Partnership: This project includes intensive water quality monitoring at the edge of agricultural fields and within streams.
  • Discovery Farms Minnesota: Discovery Farms is a farmer-led program to protect water quality. The MDA conducts edge-of-field monitoring to evaluate nutrients and sediment losses on farms across Minnesota.
  • Nutrient Management Initiative (NMI): The NMI assists farmers and crop advisers statewide to evaluate nutrient management practices on their own fields, including comparisons of fertilizer rates, timing, and products.
  • Red River Valley Drainage Water Management Project
    This project demonstrates water quality and quantity benefits of Drainage Water Management (DWM) and other practices to store water on the land.

For more information, please contact Margaret Wagner at Margaret.Wagner@state.mn.us or 651-201-6488

Agricultural Research and Evaluation

To date, the MDA has supported 42 research projects to identify processes that affect water quality and evaluate the costs and benefits of specific agricultural practices. Goals of the MDA's Clean Water Research Program are to evaluate the effectiveness of agricultural best management practices (BMPs) and to develop technologies that target BMPs to critical areas of the landscape where they will have the greatest positive impact.

Since 2008, the MDA has announced eleven requests for proposals. Any organization, research entity or individual may apply for these funds.

For more information, please contact Margaret Wagner at Margaret.Wagner@state.mn.us or 651-201-6488.

Forever Green

The MDA oversees the distribution of funds supporting the University of Minnesota Forever Green Initiative research. Researchers from multiple departments including plant breeding, agronomy, food science and economics are working together to develop new high value commodity crops for conservation purposes. Each of the perennial, winter annual, and native woody crops currently under research requires a unique strategy to add them to the agricultural supply chain. The Forever Green team is focused on ensuring that once developed, these new enterprises strengthen Minnesota's economy while protecting water, soil and other natural resources.

For more information, please contact Margaret Wagner at Margaret.Wagner@state.mn.us or 651-201-6488.

Pesticide Monitoring & Assessment

Clean Water funding has increased the capability of the MDA's pesticide laboratory in support of groundwater and surface water monitoring. The funding has allowed the MDA to increase the number of detectable pesticides, increase the sensitivity of detection of certain pesticides and increase the overall number of samples that can be analyzed on an annual basis. 

Private Well Pesticide Sampling (PWPS) Project: The PWPS Project is a follow-up testing program to the Township Testing Program (TTP). If nitrate is detected in their first TTP sample, homeowners are offered free nitrate and pesticide testing. The MDA anticipates that approximately 6,300 private wells will be tested from 2014-2020.

For more information about pesticide monitoring and assessment, please contact Bill VanRyswyk at Bill.Vanryswyk@state.mn.us or 507-344-3203. 

Minnesota Water Research Digital Library

The Minnesota Water Research Digital Library (MNWRL) is a user-friendly, searchable inventory of water research relevant to Minnesota. It includes both peer reviewed articles as well as white papers and reports. The MnWRL Digital Library provides one-stop access to all types of water research.

For more information, please contact Stephan Roos at Stephan.Roos@state.mn.us or 651-201-6631.

AgBMP Loan Program

The AgBMP Loan Program provides low interest loans to individuals for management practices that restore or protect water quality. Loans must be used toward practices that reduce soil and water erosion and ensure safe manure and waste water management.

For more information, please contact AgBMP.Loans@state.mn.us or 651-201-6618.

Manure Applicator Education

Clean Water funding is being used to develop training manuals and resources for manure applicators and site managers. These educational materials will help ensure that manure is safely handled and properly applied.

For more information, please contact Gary Edwards at Gary.Edwards@state.mn.us or 651-201-6472.

Completed Projects

  • Clay County Drainage Site
    The Clay County site was designed to evaluate the environmental impact of both surface and subsurface drainage from agricultural fields in the Red River Valley, in northern Minnesota.
  • Highway 90 Drainage Demonstration Site
    This demonstration site provided information on the characteristics of agricultural drainage from a typical field in south-central Minnesota. Results can help evaluate the environmental and economic impacts of specific management practices.

  • Livestock Environmental Quality Assurance Program (LEQA)
    LEQA was a voluntary program to help livestock producers address the unique water quality issues on their farms.  

  • Cottonwood River Native Vegetation Water Quality Project
    The overall goal of this project was to quantify the water quality and quantity characteristics of perennial vegetation on undisturbed soil and compare it to agricultural management practices commonly used in southwestern Minnesota.

  • Monitoring edge-of-field surface runoff: A three state pilot project to promote and evaluate a simple, inexpensive and reliable gauge
    The purpose of this project was to promote edge-of-field surface water quality monitoring and to test a prototype monitoring system which is designed to reduce cost and technical barriers.

  • Precision Conservation Workshops
    Between April and November 2010, the MDA held seven one-day workshops, training over 140 local conservation professionals on LiDAR-based digital terrain analysis techniques for identifying critical areas of the landscape. These workshops are part of a larger initiative to promote precision conservation and to target conservation practices to areas of the landscape where they will be most effective.