Agriculture Stewardship - Land, Water, Livestock - January 2021

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Ag Water stewardship

January 2021

Aim for 1 million ag water quality certified acres - Gov. Walz

Jon Stevens Walz Petersen

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz recently announced a goal of enrolling 1 million acres in the Minnesota Ag Water Quality Certification Program that helps protect the state’s water resources. “We must do this because Minnesota’s natural resources are a unique part of our state and culture. Farmers understand this. They are stewards of our land and water and are already helping to protect these resources,” said Governor Walz. At the end of 2020, more than 980 farms totaling over 690,000 acres have been certified across the state. For more information, see this news release. Photo L-R: Thom Petersen, Department of Agriculture commissioner; Jon Stevens, Rock Creek; Governor Tim Walz. January MAWQCP Insider newsletter.

‘Social distancing’ no barrier to farm-city partnership

ag-urban summit word cloud

With social distancing being old news, the second Ag-Urban Partnership Forum on Water Quality Dec. 16 highlighted the trust, communication, partnership, and innovation needed among agriculture and cities to collaborate on meeting the challenges of land use, water quality, and climate.

“Building trust with farmers, finding what’s best for their farm and then society beyond” requires government agencies to be consistent and positive, said panelist Steve Schlangen, who runs a small dairy farm in the Sauk River Watershed.

How agriculture can help address climate change

crop consultants

Crop consultants can be key partners

Advising farmers about seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, and other countless decisions about crop farming, crop consultants also have the potential for promoting sustainable practices to benefit water quality, soil health, and mitigation of greenhouse gases and impact on climate change. Agricultural best management practices (BMP) that improve soil health can add resiliency to the climate changes that are already underway. An MPCA report estimates the impact of 21 different agriculture best practices on greenhouse gas emissions. Read more.

Feedlot Update: 2021 NPDES permit, online services

feedlot update logo

NPDES general permit preliminary application form

The MPCA is developing an online permit application system. Applications to renew coverage under the 2021-26 NPDES general permit will only be accepted via this system. The system is not expected to be available until early summer 2021, after the expiration of the current general permit on Jan. 31, 2021. To address the timing issue, a preliminary application form will authorize feedlots with current NPDES permit coverage to continue operation under the current general permit until an application can be made through the online permit system. Download it and submit the completed form as an email attachment.

If activities at a feedlot require NPDES permit issuance or modification to existing NPDES permit coverage prior to the online permit application service being available, an application form must be requested from regional MPCA feedlot staff via email. To avoid a lapse in permit coverage, the preliminary application must be submitted prior to Jan. 31, 2021. The final 2021-26 general permit and response to comments are found on the 2021 feedlot general NPDES permit webpage. 

NPDES and SDS permit annual reports due March 1

Feedlots with NPDES or SDS operating permits are required to send their annual reports to the MPCA by March 1, 2021. The form is available on the MPCA feedlot NPDES-SDS permit webpage. Everyone filing needs to download the document (wq-f3-22b), fill out the Word version, and e-mail the completed report as a PDF document to the address provided on the form. Cover letters that accompany permits include the e-mail address of your MPCA staff contact, or call your MPCA regional office for assistance. For farms that do not transfer manure, land application records can also be generated and submitted using the MPCA excel based Manure Management Planner under Create Crop Year Records. A link to the planner is located on the feedlot program Land Application of Manure webpage.

Online feedlot registration making good progress

Progress is well underway for updating feedlot registrations using the MPCA’s new online feedlot registration system. So far more than 4,000 registrations have been updated by producers, county feedlot officers, consultants, or MPCA staff. Minnesota’s estimated 18,000 registered feedlots with 50 or more animal units, or 10 or more located in a shoreland area, must be registered with the state, and updated every four years. The next deadline for updating feedlot registration is Dec. 31, 2021. The new, quick and easy service can be accessed 24/7 using a computer, smart phone, or mobile device.

Feedlot staff update

The MPCA feedlot program has filled four vacancies with new staff: Josh Kircher in Marshall, Taylor Hosszu in Detroit Lakes, Peter Kuisle in Rochester, and Tasha Spencer , engineer, in St. Paul. Two vacancies remain in the Marshall office. Among delegated counties, vacancies exist in Martin and Carver counties. Marshall County recently hired Kyle Jore, and Morrison County hired Robert Wall.

2021 feedlot calendar

2021 feedlot inspection records calendar now available online

Feedlot weekly and monthly inspections can be logged on this calendar available on the NPDES and SDS permits webpage. Scroll to the bottom and print out the PDF file, hang on the office wall and check the boxes each day. Required inspections include: Water lines, stormwater controls, LMSA integrity, perimeter tile, and basin depth markers. It also includes an updated list of state and county feedlot staff.

Webinar, Jan. 22: Land application edge-of-field monitoring

This Livestock and Poultry Environmental Learning Center webinar will discuss results of edge-of-field studies measuring nitrogen and phosphorus losses at different rates of application, from both manure and fertilizer, with different timing and placement in Ohio. Results of a 20-year-long poultry manure and water quality study in Iowa will also be shared. Additionally, the webinar will provide information about the NRCS Edge of Field water quality monitoring program, including the reporting system. More information and to register.

Comment open for amending Class 3, 4 water quality rules

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) is requesting comment on proposed amendments to rules governing Class 3 (industrial) and 4A (livestock) water quality standards. The administrative law judge will accept comments either orally at a hearing on Feb. 4, 2021, or in writing at any time before the hearing record closes on Feb. 24, 2021. Submit written comments to the judge via the Office of Administrative Hearings Rulemaking eComments website. For more information contact Claudia Hochstein at the MPCA, or by phone 651-757-2622. The notice is available by on the MPCA Public Notice webpage. Rule-related documents can be viewed on the rulemaking webpage Amendments to Water Quality Standards: Use classifications 3 and 4. A notice was published Dec. 14, 2020, in the Minnesota State Register. 

Soil Health Coalition launches virtual programs Jan. 27

soil health coalition

Starting Jan. 27, the Minnesota Soil Health Coalition will be presenting virtual programs about soil health and related topics. Tune in every Wednesday 10 am-noon to learn about:

  • Jan. 27: Timing and Options: Getting starting, 101, making plans A, B, and C
  • Feb. 3: Cover Crop Mixes: Mixes, species, timing, equipment, herbicides
  • Feb. 10: Livestock Integration: Timing, herbicides, infrastructure, etc
  • Feb. 17: Small Grains: Herbicides, timing, management, equipment
  • Feb. 24: Interseeding Covers: Herbicides, species, mixes, timing, method, management, equipment

Zoom login details here.

Waseca winter Jan. 14 crops day online event recorded

fall manure land application

The Southern Research and Outreach Center, Waseca held its 2021 Winter Crops Day online Thursday, Jan. 14. The event was recorded and will be available for viewing some time in the week of Jan. 18. University experts reviewed research on various aspect of nitrogen, manure, cover crops, and climate impacts. Check the Waseca SROC webpage for more information.

Minnesota Milk Minne-Series: Conservation & Sustainability

minnesota milk minne series logo

Starting Jan. 8, every Friday at 1 p.m. the Conservation and Sustainability Track of Minnesota Milk's Minne-Series presents webinars, free to members of Minnesota Milk Producers Association. Non-members will be invoiced a one-time fee of $100 to access all content (this includes all four Minne-Series tracks). Learn more about each presentation here and register here

CAWT recertificaction training going online in 2021

fall manure land application

The Commercial Animal Waste Technician (CAWT) recertification training by University of Minnesota-Extension is going online for 2021. Check the website for the latest updates: Minnesota law requires companies, site managers, and applicators that manage or apply manure for-hire to obtain a CAWT license from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. Check the MPCA Feedlot Program webpage for more detail on the land application of livestock manure.

Organic farming conference online Jan. 7, 14, 21, 28

organic conference

The Minnesota Organic Conference, hosted by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) will take place every Thursday in January, beginning on Jan. 7, 2021.

Virtual sessions will begin at 3 p.m. and provide farmers and others interested in organic agriculture the opportunity to learn more about healthy farms, food businesses, and soils. To register and for more information, including the conference schedule and updates, visit Minnesota Organic Conference or call Cassie Dahl at 651-201-6134.

MPCA recognizes Christensen Farms for water conservation

adam barka

Nitrogen, nutrient management events online in February

Nitrogen fertilizer application

The 7th annual Nitrogen Conference and the 13th annual Nutrient Management Conference will take place online in February. The Nitrogen Conference is scheduled for Feb. 9. The Nutrient Management Conference will be on Feb. 16. The MPCA has been leading a state-wide effort to manage nutrients in Minnesota waters. 

Speakers from the University of Minnesota and other institutions will present valuable information on nitrogen and nutrient management research. There will be opportunities to ask questions after their presentations. Learn more about the conferences and register

NRCS ag conservation planning framework webinar Jan. 28

Nutrient and sediment losses from agricultural watersheds have impacts on U.S. aquatic and marine ecosystems. Improving agricultural water quality requires planning and voluntary installation of new conservation practices through producer engagement. To help meet this challenge, ARS scientists in Ames, Iowa, have developed the Agricultural Conservation Planning Framework (ACPF) to provide watershed databases and software tools that can be used to present realistic options for placement of conservation practices that can improve water quality outcomes. 2 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 28. Access webinar.

In the news

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