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Aerial view of the Verndale DWSMAA list of nitrogen best management practices (BMPs) and alternative management tools (AMTs) to protect groundwater within the Verndale Drinking Water Supply Management Area (DWSMA) has been approved by the MDA and published in June 2023.

The list of practices was developed by the MDA in consultation with the Local Advisory Team (LAT). The BMPs that apply to your cropland will need to be adopted on at least 80% of cropland (excluding soybean acres) within the DWSMA. AMTs can be voluntarily adopted and used to replace BMPs. A summary of the information used by the MDA to develop the list is also available.

The BMP list identifies practices for coarse and fine textured soils. An interactive map of the Verndale DWSMA is available to illustrate where coarse soils are present.

Note that Part 1 of the Groundwater Protection Rule restricts the application of nitrogen fertilizer in the fall and on frozen soils in this DWSMA unless producers are following the exceptions to the rule.

After no less than three growing seasons following the publication of this list, the MDA will conduct an evaluation to determine if the BMPs or AMTs have been adopted in the Verndale DWSMA. If during this evaluation less than 80% of the cropland acres within the DWSMA have adopted the BMPs or AMTs listed, the DWSMA may be designated a Mitigation Level 3 and the adoption of the BMPs will be required.

Verndale DWSMA Details

Due to elevated levels of nitrate-nitrogen, the Verndale DWSMA was listed at a Mitigation Level 2 under the Groundwater Protection Rule. To learn more about the determination process visit Mitigation Level Determination.

  • Designated a Mitigation Level 2 on January 15, 2020, using the following criteria
    • One or more public wells have exceeded 8 mg/L nitrate within the past 10 years
    • No point source of nitrate found to be the cause of the elevated nitrate level (i.e., ag chemical incidents, animal feedlots, improperly sealed wells, etc.)
  • The DWSMA is approximately 478 acres
  • There are about 6 cropland owners and operators within the DWSMA
  • Located in Wadena County
  • There are 2 primary public wells, and both have tested above 8 mg/L of nitrate-nitrogen in the past ten years.

Verndale Local Advisory Team

The MDA established a Local Advisory Team (LAT), consisting of local farmers, agronomists, local government staff, and the public water supplier.

The primary functions of the LAT are to:

  1. Advise the MDA on the appropriate nitrogen fertilizer BMPs for the project area
  2. Explore opportunities to use Alternative Management Tools (AMTs) in targeted high-risk areas.
  3. Provide the MDA with guidance on the most effective methods to communicate with the agricultural community in the local project area.
  4. Support the implementation of the BMPs and AMTs at the local level.

Throughout 2021 and 2022, MDA staff met with the Verndale LAT reviewing agronomic information and the MDA’s analysis of nitrogen loss below cropland within the DWSMA. Below is a list of milestones that were met during this process. The LAT will continue to meet once annually to review new public well nitrate data and discuss ongoing implementation of BMPs and AMTs within the DWSMA.

  1. Formed a local advisory team
    • The team is actively meeting
  2. Interviewed local ag retailers and farmers to gather information on the current nitrogen fertilizer management practices within the DWSMA.
  3. Mapped the boundaries of cropland within this DWSMA
  4. Completed computer modeling of nitrate loss below the crop rooting zone within this DWSMA
  5. In consultation with the LAT, a draft list of BMPs and AMTs that are practicable and appropriate for protecting groundwater within this DWSMA was developed and approved by the MDA.