Agriculture Stewardship - Land, Water, Livestock

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Ag Water stewardship

October 2019

Wet weather challenge for harvest, proper manure management

manure land application

Recent wet weather in farm country makes fall challenging not only for harvest. It also can hamper land application of livestock manure after the crop comes off. Proper techniques to get the most value as fertilizer and avoid runoff polluting waters are available on the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) website. Farmers can use the Runoff Risk Advisory Forecast tool that predicts the likelihood that applied manure will run off fields in daily, next day, and 72-hour increments. Tips on bad weather manure management are available in the Managing manure, land application during adverse weather conditions fact sheet.

Farmers who apply manure during winter should review their manure management plan now to determine which fields are the most suitable to receive winter applications. If frozen soil prevents incorporating manure, a 300-foot setback from sensitive features is required. Fields for winter application should be level, distant from sensitive features, and have crop residue. Avoid spreading when furrows contain ice or snow.

For large feedlots with National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits, surface application of liquid manure to frozen or snow-covered ground is prohibited after Nov. 30 except for emergency applications. Review the permit for specific requirements. The permittee must notify the Department of Public Safety Duty Officer (800-422-0798), and the MPCA by phone within 24 hours of an emergency application of liquid manure to frozen or snow -covered ground.

Agriculture Stewardship - Land, Water, Livestock newsletter now quarterly

In a restructuring of the MPCA communications program, the Agriculture Stewardship - Land, Water, Livestock newsletter will now be issued quarterly. It will include information formerly in the Feedlot Update newsletter, and special editions will be available as needed. Past issues are located on the MPCA feedlot program publications webpage.

Visit MPCA feedlot program exhibits at livestock trade shows

2017 pork congress

The MPCA feedlot program is participating in several upcoming conference trade shows. Staff will be on hand to distribute informational handouts and answer questions. Forms, factsheets, and record-keeping sheets will be available along with tips on how to use. Everyone is welcome stop by to see what's new or just to chat.

MPCA to consider rule changes for water quality permit fees

This fall, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) will begin the process for possible amendments to rules governing water quality fees, Minnesota Rule, Chapters 7002 and 7083. This category includes fees for municipal and industrial wastewater permits, noncontact cooling water permits, stormwater permits, feedlot permits, septic systems, environmental review, variances, and more. MPCA may make rule changes to some or all of these fees.

MPCA plans to develop a rulemaking proposal that builds off the recommendations from the Water Fee Advisory Committee, established by Commissioner John Stine in 2017. This committee analyzed data, provided feedback, and discussed possible options for revisions. MPCA is planning stakeholder meetings and will publish a Request for Comments with more information in the State Register later this fall. The Request for Comments is one of several opportunities to provide input on this rulemaking.

Sign up to receive email updates about this rulemaking on the Water Quality Fee Rules webpage:

Ag BMPs also benefit greenhouse gas reductions

cover crops

In the coming decades, Minnesota may experience warmer temperatures and wetter weather due to climate change. To reduce the impacts of climate change, Minnesota has set a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050, but we are behind schedule.

Agriculture accounts for approximately one-quarter of Minnesota’s greenhouse gas emissions, so strategies to reduce emissions from this sector are critical to reaching statewide goals. In addition to greenhouse gas reduction benefits, some strategies may help farmers maintain soil health and reduce erosion which will help them adapt to warmer and wetter climate conditions.

Many Minnesota farmers already implement best management practices like planting shelterbelt trees and reducing tilling to protect soil health and water quality. Agriculture creates greenhouse gas emissions, but through best practices, it can reduce emissions or even remove greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere and be part of our climate solution. 

A new technical report estimates the impact of 21 different agriculture best practices on greenhouse gas emissions. The emission reductions per acre range are small, but implementing best management practices across the 20 million acres of Minnesota cropland could reduce overall agriculture emissions by 5-10%.

News release:  New reports highlight opportunities in agriculture to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 10 percent

More than 800 farms now water quality certified


Since it’s statewide launch in early 2016, the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program has certified over 800 farmers and 545,000 acres.

Lake Crystal producer Kevin Poppel has been water quality certified for a year and a half. The certification helped him with his nitrogen management, and he now using a systematic approach in his operation.

“The water quality certification is a huge portion of my operation now because of the management practices we’ve been able to put in place," says Poppel. “When you look at our water quality, as a farmer, it’s something that is, I would beg to say it’s an emotional thing for us. The land is all we have." KEYC-TV video.

Grants available for updates to livestock operations

Minnesota livestock farmers and ranchers seeking to improve their livestock operations are encouraged to apply for the Agricultural Growth, Research and Innovation (AGRI) Livestock Investment Grant program. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) anticipates awarding up to $768,000 using a competitive review process.

Applicants may apply for up to 10 percent of their project’s total cost. Grant awards can range in size from $400 to $25,000. Each livestock operation is eligible to receive a lifetime maximum of $50,000 from this grant program. To be eligible for reimbursement by this grant, you must be invoiced and pay for all project materials and services between Jan. 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021.

Proposals are due no later than 4 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 18. We encourage you to use our online application. If you cannot apply online, you can fill out the application at the end of the Request for Proposals, which can be found on the AGRI Livestock Investment website.

News briefs

Ag department looking for soil scientists
The Minnesota Dept. of Agriculture has two soil scientist positions open. One is in St. Paul and the other in Rochester. More information is available at:

Revised nitrogen recommendations posted
The revised U of MN nitrogen recommendations for corn fact sheet is now up on the web. The maximum Maximum Return to Nitrogen values are:

  • 195 lbs N/acre for corn following corn
  • 150 lbs N/acre for corn following soybeans

Farmers should also be aware some fields can achieve highly productive and profitable yields by applying N at
rates below the maximum MRTN or by using best management practices for improved N utilization

MPCA feedlot program news

Permit termination requests to go online Jan. 1
Starting Jan. 1, feedlots seeking to terminate NPDES or SDS permits will be required to do so on the MPCA website. Information on the process will be made available. At any time questions can be addressed to the MPCA Small Business Environmental Assistance Program. Eventually, permits, plans and annual reports will be moved online.

Feedlot engineer Allie Remer takes a new job
MPCA feedlot program engineer Allie Remer has accepted a position with Northern Metals.  She will be the company’s Regional Environmental Manager.  

County feedlot officers on the move
Lance Wheeler, former County Feedlot Officer in Rock County, has accepted the CFO job in Pipestone County filling the vacancy left by Adam Ossefoort. Bryanna Grefthen started as CFO in Pennington County Sept. 30.  She fills the vacancy left by Levy Bergstrom.


Nov. 7: Minnesota Ag and Food Summit, Minneapolis Convention Center
Dec. 3-5: Minnesota Dairy Expo, Treasure Island, Red Wing.
Dec. 8-10: Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts, Doubletree, Bloomington.
Dec. 12-14: Minnesota State Cattlemen's Association conference, Willmar Conference Center.
Dec. 17-18: Conservation Tillage Conference, St. Cloud Holiday Inn.
Jan. 22-23: Minnesota Ag Expo, Mankato Convention Center.
Jan. 28-29: Minnesota Pork Congress, Minneapolis Convention Center.
Feb. 6: Minnesota Independent Crop Consultants Association annual convention, Crow River Winery, Hutchinson.

Send the news

The MPCA Agriculture Stewardship-Land, Water, Livestock newsletter 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.