With a boost from the Minnesota Corn Growers Association’s (MCGA) new Conservation Innovation Grant program, five farmers will be implementing a new conservation practice to better manage nitrogen fertilizer and protect water quality on their farms this growing season. Another Minnesota farmer is receiving funding to host a field day and showcase existing conservation efforts to other area farmers.
A total of $39,000 was awarded to help farmers test or develop an innovative or best practice in the following areas:
- Nitrate loss reduction
- Improved nitrogen management practices for Minnesota soils
- Maintaining or improving water quality, or
- Innovative soil conservation practices.
“We were very pleased with the amount of interest this new program received during the first round of funding,” said Dr. Paul Meints, MCGA Research Director. “If you weren’t able to get in an application this time, stay tuned. We hope to have another round of funding available this winter.”
Projects awarded included:
Keith Hartmann, Sibley County
Working with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) and the USDA Natural Resource & Conservation Service (NRCS), Hartmann is developing a piece of equipment that will interseed cover crops while applying in-season Nitrogen fertilizer, all in a single pass. Both cover crops and applying Nitrogen during the growing season help keep Nirtogen on the field and out of nearby waterways.
Chad Davison, Grant County
Davidson recently installed an innovative subsurface drainage system on his farm to better manage when and how much water is drained from his fields. A well is also connected to the system to supply water to crops during dry periods during the growing season via subirrigation. The entire project is expected to help reduce Nitrogen losses through drainage. Using Conservation Innovation Grant funds and working in collaboration with MDA, Davidson will monitor water quality, water table level and yields in the subirrigated corn field.
Brad Nere, Renville County
Nere plans to interseed different cover crop varieties as he applies in-season Nitrogen to improve soil health, reduce erosion and protect water quality.
Wayne Dewall, Mower County
Dewall plans to fine-tune his Nitrogen rates closer to what is recommended by the University of Minnesota to both protect water quality near his farm and boost profit potential. On one field, Dewall will pre-apply Nitrogen before planting. On another field, he will apply about 60 percent of his Nitrogen before planting, and 40 percent during the growing season. Environmental and economic advantages will be measured on both fields.
Lee Thompson, Nicollet County
To improve soil health and reduce erosion and nitrate losses, Thompson is working with NRCS and a local crop consultant to develop a piece of machinery that will interseed cover crops while applying Nitrogen fertilizer during the growing season. The project is expected to cut Thompson’s costs and better protect area water waterways from the potential of run-off during heavy rains.
Jared Nordick, Wilkin County
A field day during the growing season will give Nordick an opportunity to showcase his innovative controlled drainage and irrigation system to area farmers and community leaders. Water drained from one of Nordick’s fields is stored and reused as needed during dry part of the growing season. Nordick will also showcase a saturated buffer on another of his fields, which removes nitrogen fertilizer from drainage water before it enters nearby waterways.
Minnesota corn farmers support about $4 million in research efforts annually through respected institutions like the University of Minnesota to address water quality and nutrient management issues. The new Conservation Innovation grant program enhances those efforts by providing an opportunity for individual farmers to showcase their own ideas and examine how they could be replicated on other area farms.
Look for feature stories on each grant recipient over the next couple of weeks here at MinnesotaCornerstone.com.