Agriculture Stewardship - Land, Water, Livestock - September 2020

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Ag Water stewardship

September 2020

Nitrogen fertilizer-groundwater restrictions begin Sept. 1

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) is reminding farmers and landowners that beginning Sept. 1, 2020 the application of nitrogen fertilizer in the fall and on frozen soil will be restricted in areas vulnerable to groundwater contamination. This will also apply to Drinking Water Supply Management Areas (DWSMAs) with elevated nitrate levels. Vulnerable groundwater areas include coarse textured soils, karst geology, and shallow bedrock. Approximately 12 to 13 percent of Minnesota’s cropland is vulnerable to groundwater contamination. A map showing the vulnerable groundwater areas as well as a list of exceptions to the restrictions are outlined on the Groundwater Protection Rule website. Read more.

MPCA Feedlot Program Update

NPDES feedlot general permit applications going online

feedlot update logo

The MPCA is developing an online permit application system for coverage under the 2021-2026 NPDES feedlot general permit; however, it is not expected to be available until late 2020. Updates on the availability of the online permit application system will be posted to 2021 NPDES general permit website. Feedlot registration and permit termination forms have already moved to online systems.

The MPCA will not be taking applications for coverage under the 2021 general permit until the online application system is available.The paper application form for NPDES and SDS permits has been removed from the website. Anyone needing an NPDES or SDS permit for a construction or expansion project prior to the online service becoming available, should contact George Schwint,, 320-894-5866.

MPCA reviewing comments on 2021-26 NPDES general permit

feedlot permit

The MPCA feedlot program is reviewing more than 140 comment letters received about the 2021-26 feedlot NPDES draft general permit. The comments are available on the 2021 NPDES general permit web page. Many of the comments focused on measures to limit environmental impacts from nitrogen, including September and October land application of manure restrictions and a February and March land application of solid manure prohibition. A contested case hearing was also requested over matters related to manure application rates.

Over the next several weeks, the MPCA will develop responses to all of the comment letters and consider modifications to the draft permit and the contested case hearing request. Updates will be posted on the above web page. Further questions can be addressed by George Schwint,, 320-894-5866, or your regional MPCA feedlot staff.

Get the most from manure with effective land application

This fall livestock producers will be applying billions of gallons or pounds of stored manure to fertilize next year’s crop. And just as important as it is to plant and harvest crops correctly, manure application requires proper techniques to get the most value as fertilizer and avoid runoff polluting waters. Details are available on the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) website:

manure land application

Feedlot EAWs, permits open for review

Waukon Dairy-Norman County

The public notice continues through 4:30 p.m. Oct. 16 for the draft permit and environmental assessment worksheet (EAW) for Waukon Dairy, a  proposed 10,500-head Riverview Farms dairy about five miles southeast of Gary in Norman County. The environmental assessment worksheet and draft permit are available on the MPCA web site. Request copies of the documents from or send written comments: Environmental assessment worksheet, Charles Peterson (651-757-2856) MPCA, 520 Lafayette Road North, St. Paul, MN 55155-4194; permit, Molly Costin (218-846-8114) MPCA, 714 Lake Ave., Ste. 220, Detroit Lakes, MN 56501.

Aggen Farm-Nobles County.

The public notice continues through 4:30 p.m. Sept. 9 for the draft permit and environmental assessment worksheet (EAW) for Aggen Farms’ proposed expansion of its swine facility in Nobles County. The expansion would double the existing feedlot from 2,400 to 4,800 hogs. The environmental assessment worksheet and draft NPDES permit are available on the MPCA web site. Request copies of the documents from or send written comments to: Environmental assessment worksheet: Kevin Kain (651-757-2856) MPCA, 520 Lafayette Road North, St. Paul, MN 55155-4194; permit: Klayton VanOverbeke (507-476-4276) 504 Fairgrounds Rd, Suite 200, Marshall, MN 56258.

Barrick Farm-Norman County

The public notice continues through 4:30 p.m. Sept 18 for the environmental assessment worksheet (EAW) for Barrick Family Farms’ proposed swine facility about four miles east of Lockhart in Norman County. It will accommodate approximately 16,300 hogs (6,600 under 55 lbs., 4,928 from 55 to 300 lbs., and 4,800 more than 300 lbs.) The environmental assessment worksheet and draft NPDES permit are available on the MPCA web site. Request copies of the documents from or sent written comments to: Environmental assessment worksheet, Kevin Kain (651-757-2482) MPCA, 520 Lafayette Road North, St. Paul, MN 55155-4194; permit, Molly Costin (218-846-8114) MPCA, 714 Lake Ave., Ste. 220, Detroit Lakes, MN 56501.

Winkelman's adventures add ag water quality certification

MAWQCP Babe Winkelman

Babe Winkelman (second from right in photo) is often recognized for his hunting and fishing adventures. Now the Winkelman Farm is being recognized for achieving Water Quality Certification in Minnesota’s Ag Water Quality Certification Program (MAWQCP). The farm provides multiple types of habitat for wildlife, including 60 acres of native prairie and more than 10,000 trees planted. Check out the full article on East Otter Tail SWCD’s blog.

The MAWQCP has certified 943 producers and over 652,000 acres in the state. Certified producers receive regulatory certainty for a period of ten years, special access to technical and financial assistance to support their operation, along with being recognized as protective of water quality locally and statewide. To learn more about the program visit or contact your local Soil and Water Conservation District. - Danielle Isaacson, Department of Agriculture

Grant applications to update livestock operations due Nov. 4

Minnesota livestock farmers and ranchers seeking to improve their livestock operation are encouraged to apply for the Agricultural Growth, Research and Innovation (AGRI) Livestock Investment Grant program. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture anticipates awarding up to $789,000 using a competitive review process. Applicants may apply for up to 10% of their project’s total cost. Grant awards can range in size from $400 to $25,000. Proposals are due by 4 p.m. Nov. 4. Online application is encouraged. If you cannot apply online, fill out the application at the end of the Request for Proposals, which can be found on the AGRI Livestock Investment website.

Groups launch 4R Nutrient Stewardship certification program

More than 25 agricultural organizations, companies, universities, and government agencies have joined to support the launch of a new voluntary 4R Nutrient Stewardship certification program for agricultural retailers and nutrient service providers in Minnesota. The Right Rate and Right Time in the Right Place program consists of 32 science-based best management practices and nutrient standards to provide a science-based framework for plant nutrition management and sustained crop production, while considering specific individual farms’ needs.

4R logo

Sediment reduction pipe dream comes true

bill steffl 2

An MPCA/EPA grant helped complete the final phase of large, multifaceted sediment reduction project in the Upper Buffalo River watershed near Detroit Lake.  A 2,000-foot long pipe project addresses one of the top five sources of sediment in the watershed identified in a 2015 study.

“The benefit to everybody, in my opinion, is the fact that water entering the Buffalo River is going to have a reduced sediment load. That’s one reason there’s so many different agencies involved in this, is because everybody’s gaining something.” – landowner Bill Steffl (BWSR photo).

UM nutrient management podcast, research update, events

University of Minnesota-Extension experts discuss manure management, upcoming manure-related events and educational programming, the latest on the liquid swine manure sidedressing research project, the manure N & P credit study going, what farmers should keep in mind about manure management heading into fall. Guests: Melissa Wilson, Extension manure management specialist; Chryseis Modderman, Extension manure management educator. Listen to the podcast: 

Get your nitrogen smarts on these Extension web pages

nitrates pie chart

University of Minnesota Extension has posted resources reviewing its Nitrogen Smart program addressing nitrates in drainage water. Previously, many landowners and farm producers attended meetings around the state. The web page offers fundamentals session materials available to browse a la carte. The materials are available start to finish on the training website:

In an Introduction to the Isues section, the MPCA's Dave Wall narrates a summary (11-minute video) of nitrates in surface water. Bruce Montgomery of the Dept. of Agriculture narrates a 14-minute video on nitrates in groundwater. For more information, contact Brad Carlson, Extension Educator, 507-521-6012 Chart: Sources of nitrates

Minnesota Office for Soil Health website lists events

The new website for the Minnesota Office for Soil Health at includes a calendar of Minnesota soil health events. The calendar includes field days, webinars, conferences, and other events hosted by the public and private sector. A link for submitting events is beneath the calendar. For more information contact Ann Marcelle Lewandowski, University of Minnesota Water Resources Center, 612-624-6765.

Soil health

Interactive state map shows environmental review projects

EAW map

A new Environmental Review Projects interactive map allows you to find information on active environmental review projects in your community including Environmental Assessment Worksheets, Environmental Impact Statements, and Alternative Urban Areawide Reviews. On the map, you can find information on public comment periods, public meetings, notices of decisions on environmental review documents, links to environmental review documents, and Responsible Governmental Unit (RGU) contact info. Click here to learn more and visit the Environmental Review Projects Interactive Map:

Air emissions from composting webinar Sept. 18

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Previous webinars have discussed the value and use of compost from livestock and poultry operations. They have addressed use of composting as a method for handling mortalities. This month will focus on air emissions associated different methods of composting and the subsequent emissions when composted manure is applied to cropland. Sept. 18, 1:30 p.m. Presenters: Mario E. de Haro Martí, University of Idaho; April Leytem, USDA-ARS. Read more or register for the webinar.

In the news


Sept. 9: U of M Extension soil health expo, Barrett, MN.
Oct. 1: Hypoxia Task Force virtual public meeting.

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The MPCA Agriculture Stewardship-Land, Water, Livestock newsletter welcomes news from partners about, projects, people, and upcoming events. Email submissions to Past issues  are available on the feedlot program publications webpage.