Agriculture Stewardship - Land, Water, Livestock

Having trouble viewing this email? View it as a webpage.
Ag Water stewardship

December 2017

Ideas flow from thousands at Water Quality Town Hall meetings

water quality meetings

Minnesotans take pride in generally good water quality in lakes and streams, and they have a lot of ideas how to keep it that way or improve it where necessary. More than 2,000 attended Water Quality Town Hall meetings this past summer and fall, and more participated on line. Together they provided more than 3,500 comments about water quality goals and actions.

Governor Mark Dayton hosted the meetings in 10 communities to solicit ideas for the '25 by 25' campaign, a 25 percent improvement average in water quality by 2025. Environmental Quality Board staff presented a summary of the town hall meetings at the Dec. 20 EQB meeting. A final report is being planned for sometime in January.

Local groups and communities were key partners in organizing meetings and providing input. Some of the top messages heard included the need for education, communication, civic engagement, and reducing runoff by holding more water on the land. The meetings and final report will provide a strong foundation for accelerating action and innovation towards meeting the 25 by 25 goal. Town hall meetings took place in Rochester, Mankato, Marshall, Crookston, St. Cloud, Ely, Bemidji, Minneapolis, Burnsville, Stillwater. Photo: St. Cloud meeting Sept. 6.

Back to top

Podcast: Managing nutrients in winter

A new post has been published to the Minnesota Crop News Blog: Nutrient Management Podcast: Managing Nutrients in the Winter Season. In this episode of the podcast, Dan Kaiser, Jeff Vetsch, Fabian Fernandez and Brad Carlson talk about managing nutrients as we head into winter. We're talking fall urea, tile flow, cover crops and hard freeze, and how all those factors affect nutrient loss. Click here to listen:

Back to top

Two Wadena County farms now water quality certified

tom schultz

Two Wadena County forage-based farming operations have joined the ranks of Minnesota's Water Quality Certified farms. Tom Schulz farms in central Wadena County near Sebeka. Tom's farming operation involves forage production and pasture, and he uses rotational grazing practices to improve forage availability and prevent overgrazing. Tom's operation also involves timber farming and agroforestry practices, and he has enrolled some areas of his farms in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP).

Chuck Horsager's farm is also in central Wadena County near Sebeka. Chuck's farm is in continual hay production and also has five acres of tree planting. Since the farm is in perennial vegetation, the water and/or wind erosion rates are extremely low. Water runoff and delivery of any soil or nutrients to streams or lakes is negligible, and the land use of Chuck's farm also prevents the leaching of nutrients into ground water resources. With this farm in either hay or timber, this vegetation serves as a filter or buffer, protecting any nearby streams or ponds. 

Across Minnesota, more than 480 farming operations of all types are now certified as protecting water quality in Minnesota's three-year old Ag Water Quality Certification Program (MAWQCP). Wadena Pioneer-Journal photo: L-R: Brian Napstad, BWSR Board Chairman; Matt Wohlman, Deputy Commissioner of Agriculture, MDA; Tom Schultz; Kathryn Kelly, BWSR Board Member; Rebecca Flood, MPCA Assistant Commissioner; John Jaschke, BWSR Executive Director.

Back to top

CAWT training workshops at six locations in 2018

manure application

State law requires companies, site managers and applicators that manage or apply manure for hire to obtain a Commercial Animal Waste Technician (CAWT) license from the Dept. of Agriculture. Six certification workshops have been scheduled around the state, beginning Jan. 16 at Pork Congress in Minneapolis. The workshops include CAWT program update, runoff risk advisory forecast, tile drainage, record-keeping, and 'manure math'. Workshop schedule:

  •  Jan. 16: Pork Congress, Minneapolis Convention Center.
  • Jan. 31: Sauk Centre City Hall.
  • Feb. 22: Hutchinson, Days Inn.
  • March 6: Mankato National Guard Armory.
  • March 14: Pizza Ranch, Slayton.
  • March 16: Steele County Four Seasons Center, Owatonna.

Back to top

Nitrogen, nutrient management conferences in February

Farmers, agronomists and other ag professionals with an interest in nutrient management and water issues are encouraged to attend upcoming conferences showcasing the latest research on fertilizer and manure management, water quality and tile drainage, and more.

The Fourth Annual Nitrogen: Minnesota’s Grand Challenge and Compelling Opportunity Conference will be held Feb. 6 at the Rivers Edge Convention Center in St. Cloud, with registration beginning at 8:15 a.m. Attendees can expect to learn more about cover crops, tile drainage and on-farm testing to improve profitability and water quality. Speakers include Dr. Matt Helmers, Iowa State University; Dr. Howard Brown, Illini FS; along with several University of Minnesota researchers. Click here to register.

This year marks the tenth Annual Nutrient Management Conference. Conference will be held Feb. 20 at the Verizon Conference Center in Mankato, with registration starting at 8:15 a.m. Sessions will cover trends in phosphorus and sulfur management, in-season nitrogen applications and cures for phosphorus runoff losses from farmland. Dr. Don Flaten, University of Manitoba and Dr. Emerson Nafziger, University of Illinois will be joined by Minnesota researchers. Click here to register.

Hosted by the Minnesota Agricultural Water Resource Center and University of Minnesota Extension along with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and several other sponsors, the two conferences continue a partnership effort that has grown in recent years and attracts several hundred attendees. Several presentations will provide updates on research funded by the Agricultural Fertilizer Research and Education Council, an industry-led program funded through an assessment on fertilizer sold in Minnesota. Learn more about AFREC here.

Certified crop advisors will earn continuing education credits in nutrient management and water quality. To register, go to Online registration is encouraged but not required. Conference registration is $20 up to one day prior to the event, which can be paid online (requires a $3.16 service fee) or at the door by check or cash. On-site registration is $25, payable by cash or check.

For the latest nutrient management information, like UMN Extension Nutrient Management on Facebook, follow on Twitter or visit their website.

Back to top

Crow Wing named 'SWCD of the Year'

Crow Wing SWCD

The "SWCD of the Year" award presented Dec. 5 at the MASWCD convention went to Crow Wing. The award recognizes business, leadership, and program activities. Crow Wing SWCD has been a leading county in Reinvest in Minnesota (RIM) easements for lake and forest protection. As a host district for their Technical Service Area, they excel at tracking and reporting grants, and providing GIS technical support. The Outstanding Conservationist award went to Sandhill Dairy and Toad River Farms, represented by the Bob Dombeck Family of Perham. Photo: Sheila Boldt, CW SWCD (left), Darren Mayers, CW SWCD, Melissa Barrick, CW SWCD, Diane Jacobson, SWCD Board Supervisor, Bob Albrecht, SWCD Board Supervisor, Scott Kittleson, NRCS District Conservationist, Joanne Weaver,  SWCD Board Supervisor, Leonard Koering, SWCD Board Supervisor, and Tasha Koering, CW SWCD (right).  Missing: Beth Hippert, CW SWCD; and Roger Waytashek, SWCD Board Supervisor. Photo credit: Red Canoe.

Other awards presented at the awards lunch Dec. 4:

  • MASWCD/MPCA Community Conservationist - Cheryl Seeman, nominated by Anoka CD, and presented by Glenn Skuta, MPCA Watershed Division director (at right in photo).
  • MASWCD/DNR Division of Forestry Outstanding Forest Steward - Dave Parent, nominated by Itasca SWCD.
  • MASWCD Legislator of the Year - Sen. Carrie Ruud.
  • MASWCD Teacher of the Year - John Sammler, Hopkins High School.
  • Outstanding SWCD Supervisor - Paul Krabbenhoft, Clay SWCD Supervisor, MASWCD Northwest Area 1 Director, and MASWCD Secretary/Treasurer.
  • DNR Division of Ecological and Water Resources Appreciation Award - Olmsted SWCD.
  • Conservation District Employee Award, presented by the Board of Water and Soil Resources - Peter Mead, Becker SWCD Manager.

Various programs of the MPCA were represented at the trade show Monday, Dec. 4, and Tuesday, Dec. 5, at the "Conservation Information Fair." The Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts represents the 89 soil and water conservation districts of Minnesota.

Back to top

Water storage best hope for reducing excess river sediment


Increased temporary water storage in the upper basin offers the greatest opportunity and least cost for reducing sediment in the Minnesota River, according to Patrick Belmont of Utah State University. Belmont gave an overview of sediment and nutrient issues in the Minnesota River at the Minnesota River Congress' ninth meeting Nov. 16 in Jordan. Despite much effort and expense over the past decade, there have been no reductions in nitrogen or sediment, while phosphorus has dropped 33 percent, mostly due to improvements in municipal wastewater treatment.

More recently, scientists have been studying how artificial drainage affects stream flow. At the field scale it helps water infiltration, while creating flow spikes at the watershed scale, Belmont says. Managing land use is the key to reducing sediment loss at low and moderate flows, using tools such as drainage and ditch management, wetlands, buffers, water retention, increasing soil organic matter, cover crops, and bank stabilization.

During his postdoctoral research, Belmont led a large collaborative project developing a sediment budget and morphodynamic sediment routing model for the Le Sueur River. At Utah State he continues to develop his research program in watershed hydrology, environmental geochemistry, and geomorphology. Anyone interested in getting copies of Patrick's papers can contact him directly or check his webpage.

Back to top

MPCA Assistant Commissioner Rebecca Flood to retire

Rebecca Flood, assistant MPCA commissioner for water policy

After 40 years of combined service to the state, MPCA Assistant Commissioner Rebecca Flood has announced she is retiring, effective Feb.16, 2018. Flood, in the photo at right, served at the Metropolitan Council from 1978 to 2008, responsible for ensuring that metropolitan area wastewater treatment plants were meeting environmental requirements. She joined the MPCA in 2008 as the assistant commissioner for water policy, and also served as the agency's agricultural liaison.

Shannon Lotthammer will serve as the new assistant commissioner for water policy effective upon Flood’s retirement. Lotthammer has been with the MPCA for more than 20 years, and has served as the Environmental Analysis and Outcomes (EAO) division director since 2012. In that role, she has demonstrated great skill in leading the agency in establishing science-based water quality standards, expanding air quality monitoring, revising the wild rice rule, helping adapt MPCA work to address environmental justice, and championing a variety of improvement projects. 

Back to top

MPCA closes Willmar regional office

mpca regional offices

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency closed its office in Willmar, effective Friday, Dec. 8, 2017. The six staff members assigned to the office have been re-assigned to alternate work locations, and also work from the Marshall MPCA office. Agriculture Stewardship newsletter editor Forrest Peterson can be contacted at 320-979-1776, or

One of seven MPCA regional offices outside the Twin City metro area, the Willmar office opened in 1999 at 201 28th Ave. SW. In 2006, it moved to 1601 E. Hwy. 12. With the fewest staff among regional offices, MPCA officials decided that closure would reduce costs with minimal effect on services.
Along with the MPCA office in Marshall, the Willmar office served 18 counties in southwestern Minnesota. The Marshall office, which opened in 1976, will continue to work with citizens and businesses in protecting the environment.

Other regional offices are located in Duluth, Brainerd, Detroit Lakes, Mankato, and Rochester. More information about these MPCA offices is available on the agency's MPCA offices webpage.

Back to top

In the news

Gov. Dayton sends letter on farm bill priorities
Governor Mark Dayton has sent a letter to Minnesota’s congressional delegation, outlining the priorities of the state for the next federal farm bill. The governor’s letter includes recommendations to support Minnesota’s farm and rural economies, nutrition, and conservation and water quality in the farm bill. For more information contact Sam Fettig, press secretary, 130 State Capitol, 75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155. Office: 651-201-3408.

Farm Advocates expand statewide reach
MDA news release, 12/18/17
Minneapolis Tribune series on agriculture and food, Dec. 17-20:
• Part 1: Changing consumers ignite food revolution
• Part 2: Rise of grass-fed meat forces industry to shift
• Part 3: More shoppers demand ethical meat treatment
• Part 4: A better French fry, but will consumers buy it?

Soil and Water Conservation Society NewsBriefs, 12/28/17

Back to top


Jan. 11-12: Minnesota Organic Conference, River's Edge Conference Center, St. Cloud.
Jan. 17: South Dakota Soil Health Coalition annual meeting, Watertown.
Jan 24:  Minnesota Ag Expo, Verizon Center, Mankato.
Feb. 6: Minnesota Nitrogen Conference, Rivers Edge Conference Center, St. Cloud.
Feb. 15: Minnesota Independent Crop Consultants Association winter meeting, Hutchinson.
Feb. 19: Nutrient, soil, and water management conference, Fergus Falls.
April 12-14: State of the Water Conference, Breezy Point Resort, Brainerd.

Back to top

Send the news

The MPCA Feedlot Update welcomes news from partners about, projects, people, and upcoming events. Email submissions to Past issues of Feedlot Update are available on the feedlot program publications webpage.