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Unique partnership forged to answer key water quality questions


Fri, Jan 18th, 2013
Posted in All Agriculture

Farm Cooperators Kent Dornink and Richard Johnson with MDA Commissioner Dave Fredrickson. Photos submitted

Kevin Kuehner, MN Dept. of Ag, and Joe Magee, SWCD Water Plan Coordinator

Do you ever wonder how much sediment was lost from a field during last summer’s largest rainstorm or how runoff from an individual farm affects streams and rivers miles away? Do you want to know about the effectiveness of your management practices and how much soil and nutrients they keep in place? What about soil loss from non-agricultural areas such as woods and stream banks? The Root River Field to Stream Partnership is attempting to answer these and other questions in a study in southeastern Minnesota.

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture is working with farmers, the Minnesota Agricultural Water Resource Center (MAWRC), The Nature Conservancy, Fillmore and Mower County Soil and Water Conservation Districts, Monsanto, and academic researchers to better understand the impacts of agricultural management practices on water quality. Partners are taking a comprehensive look at the Root River watershed by using multiple research tools at both small (50 acres) and large (3,750 acres) scales.

Three areas were selected for this study: 1) South Branch of the Root River Headwaters-Mower County 2) Crystal Creek-Fillmore County and 3) Bridge Creek-Fillmore/Houston County. Within each of these areas there is at least one edge-of-field and one in-stream water monitoring station.

Together, project partners are addressing the following key questions:

What is the range of sediment, nitrogen and phosphorus losses from agricultural fields on actual farms in southeast Minnesota?

What are the long-term trends and relationships between specific farm management practices and water quality?

How effective are new and existing Best Management Practices (BMPs)?

Looking at the water quality impact of land use across one-million acres in the Root River watershed is not an easy task. This type of project requires expertise and coordination between individuals and organizations. The partnership between farmers, farmer organizations, academia, state government, local government, private companies and non-profits has been a critical component to the success experienced so far.

NEW

Check out a Video about the Root River Field to Stream Partnership! This recently created video features farmers talking about why they participate in water quality monitoring and the value they see in this program. This video includes short interviews and amazing footage of the beautiful landscape in southeastern Minnesota.

The first phase of this project will be completed in 2015 while the study will continue over the next decade. To view the video, obtain more information and read a summary of initial results visit the project website at www.mda.state.mn.us/cwf/rrpartnership.

For more information, please contact:

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