Helping farmers navigate the latest conservation-related reports, programs, strategies and initiatives

FarmKeeping up with the latest reports, studies, regulations, programs and initiatives related to conservation can sometimes make a farmer’s head spin.

Over the last couple of months, several reports have been released and strategies proposed by various agencies and organizations that aim to improve Minnesota’s water quality and enhance on-farm conservation efforts. These reports total almost 1,000 pages, span dozens of websites, involve multiple organizations and encompass several government programs and non-governmental initiatives.

Making sense of it all — or even making sense of some of it — while also managing the day-to-day operation of a farm is challenging.

However, it’s important that farmers have at least a basic understanding of each new report that’s released and strategy proposed.

In the coming weeks, MinnesotaCORNerstone.com will have a series of posts that summarizes each report, strategy and initiative in 250 words or less. Yes, you read that correctly, 250 words or less.

What if the final report is over 500 pages?  Doesn’t matter. We’ll help you understand the basics in 250 words or less. You should be able to read it while you’re waiting for the tractor to warm up.

Of course, you won’t learn everything you need to know in 250 words, but the goal of this project is to help keep farmers informed of what’s out there in an accessible and easy-to-understand way. Don’t worry, we’ll provide all the links and contact information necessary so farmers who want to dig in deeper can do so.

To get started, we’ve provided a one-sentence summary of each report/strategy/initiative that we’ll be covering. We’ve also included links to the full report, executive summary and other information.

This is the view from 50,000 feet. In the coming weeks, we’ll take a look at each report closer to the ground level, in 250 words or less, of course.

Nitrogen Fertilizer Management Plan

  • Lead agency/organization: Minnesota Department of Agriculture
  • The revision process for Minnesota’s Nitrogen Fertilizer Management Plan (NFMP) — originally adopted in 1990 — began in 2010 and was recently completed.
  • View the complete updated plan here.
  • View the executive summary here.
  • The Minnesota Department of Agriculture is requesting public comments on the plan through Nov. 1, 2013. Submit your comments and feedback here.

Nutrient Reduction Strategy

  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
  • A strategy to guide existing state-level programs to achieve additional reductions in nutrients within Minnesota water bodies by maximizing ongoing efforts.
  • View the complete report here.
  • View the executive summary here.
  • Comments on the strategy are being accepted through Dec. 18, 2013. To make comments, email nutrientreduction.pca@state.mn.us or write to:Wayne Anderson
    Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
    520 Lafayette Road North
    St. Paul, MN 55155

Nitrogen Source Assessment

  • Lead agency/organization: Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
  • A study released in June of 2013 that examines nitrogen in Minnesota’s surface waters and examines possible best management practices to reduce nitrate levels.
  • View the complete report here.
  • View the executive summary here.
  • View charts and graphics related to the study here.

Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program

  • Minnesota Department of Agriculture
  • A voluntary program that works with farmers to adopt on-farm conservation practices to improve water quality. Farmers who participate will be certified and assured that their farms meet Minnesota’s water quality goals and standards for 10 years.
  • View program details here.
  • View a fact sheet here.

Green Star Farms Initiative

  • Minnesota Agricultural Water Resource Center
  • A voluntary online assessment tool that challenges farmers to think critically about their operations and how to make conservation improvements on their farm.
  • Read an overview of Green Star here.
  • View a Q&A on Green Star here.
  • Sign up and take the online assessment here.

New Water Quality Standards for River Eutrophication and Total Suspended Solids

  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
  • New amendments to Minnesota’s water quality standards that address river eutrophication, total suspended soils and other issues are expected to be announced in the near future.
  • View more details here.

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