The environmental impact of irrigated agriculture on ground and surface water resources in Minnesota is of major concern. Better irrigation scheduling has the potential in addressing these complex agricultural environmental challenges we face in Minnesota. The main goal of this research is to identify and develop irrigation management strategies and techniques that will increase corn water use efficiency, while minimizing nitrate leaching and maximizing crop utilization of soil nitrogen without impacting the yield. Four irrigation scheduling methods (1) in-field soil moisture monitoring using soil moisture sensors,
Research Category: Water Quality
Over the last several years our regional atmospheric measurements and mesocosm experiments have revealed that reactive nitrogen losses associated with corn production are likely to increase as our climate continues to get warmer and wetter. Our mesocosm experiments also indicate that alternative nitrogen management techniques have significant potential to reduce reactive nitrogen losses. Here, we propose to extend our mesocosm experimental approach and analyses to assess if the recoupling of grain and animal production systems via improved manure nitrogen management can help to further mitigate reactive nitrogen losses.
Minnesota has an interim goal of 20% reduction in nitrate-N load in Minnesota waters by 2025. One structural drainage practice that can immediately contribute to nitrate reduction is the woodchip bioreactor. Bioreactors are commonly placed at the edge of tile-drained fields 10 to 80 acres in size. A unique three-cell bioreactor in Faribault County was installed in 2016 on a county ditch system, a 632-acre watershed, which is row cropped in corn and soybeans, and a scale that has never been tried.
Corporate supply chain, commodity production group, government farm and environmental protection agency and societal forces have stimulated the development of a wide range of assessment tools to determine the sustainability of farming practices. These efforts are being led nationally by Field to Market, a consortium of multinational agribusiness, commodity group, academic and non-governmental entities. Field to Market has used a Science Advisory Board to develop FieldPrint Calculator for the assessment of farm sustainability (with a focus on energy use,
This project complements the many other collaborative effort occurring in the larger watershed. Unfortunately, stream and near stream sediment sources are a significant contributor to chronic turbidity and habitat degradation in the Root River, yet little has been done to address this resource concern. Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MN DNR) Fisheries and Trout Unlimited have done a great job to improve stream and habitat conditions where fisheries exist. However, the region needs a strategy that is feasible to address stream sedimentation and habitat degradation at a larger scale.
Nitrogen (N) is an essential input for profitable corn production. Previous research (Randall and Mulla, 2001, Dinnes et al., 2002) has shown subsurface tile drainage systems deliver nitrate-N to surface waters and thereby degrade water quality. Row crop agriculture in the Midwest is under scrutiny to reduce NO3 concentrations and loads in tile drainage. The use of cover crops and applying appropriate rates of N for corn are potential management strategies to reduce NO3 losses in tile drainage water (Dinnes et al.,
The goal of this project is to develop a state-of-the-art large mesocosm facility to examine how climate change will impact agricultural productivity and other environmental impacts in Minnesota. The results will provide important knowledge to Minnesota corn growers with respect to climate change adaptation. Better understanding of how current cultivars respond to changing climate will help with developing an integrated climate change adaptation plan and guide future research efforts.
This research will use a combination of field research and modeling to quantify the water balances of corn production systems, with and without the presence of subsurface drainage, along a precipitation gradient from eastern South Dakota to south central Minnesota. Understanding the hydrologic response of drainage and crop water consumption at both the field and watershed scale will help corn growers be economically competitive while also informing development of tools and management approaches that can minimize their environmental impact under various climate conditions.
The objective of the research is to show that perennial living mulches can be established in sensitive locations within cropped fields and managed so that they can support continued row crop production while conferring environmental benefits.
A secondary project titled “Recycling nitrate with electrodialysis” is ongoing. The current progress report if for that project focus. Jan 19th, 2017
Presentations and/or displays to audiences and conferences and meeting around the state concerning the activities and resources that the University of Minnesota has concerning environmental stewardship with respect to agricultural drainage and fertility management pertaining to water quality.