A proactive approach to water quality

The Minnesota Corn Growers Association and its grower leaders are working towards a goal to become the most sustainable and environmentally responsible corn farmers in the nation. A major part of that goal is to continuously improve the measures implemented by farmers to protect our state’s water supply.

Minnesota’s corn growers are investing in research and education to better manage their use of nitrogen fertilizer. Since 2014, the state’s corn farmers have invested more than $6 million of their own funds through the corn check-off in education and research that improves nitrogen management strategies to reduce nitrate loss in water.

Today’s farmers are working with researchers at the University of Minnesota to develop practices that reduce nitrate loss. The multi-million dollar investment has helped farmers accurately assess the fertilizer needs of their crop. By increasing nitrogen use efficiency, farmers are working towards their goal by better protecting the state’s water supply.

Minnesota corn farmer-funded research is also helping farmers more effectively keep nitrogen in the soil using cover crops. University of Minnesota research, partially funded by the state’s corn growers, found cereal rye cover crops consistently reduced nitrogen loss while not impacting corn yield. MCGA will continue working with University researchers to develop best practices around cover crops as a vital tool for farmers to increase soil health and protect our water supply.

Minnesota’s corn growers also invested millions in education to ensure the latest best practices are reaching the field. One great example of that is the farmer-funded Nitrogen Smart program, which has been attended by hundreds of Minnesota farmers looking to become more efficient in their nitrogen use. To make the curriculum more accessible, corn farmers can now take the seminar online from the comfort of their home.

Additionally, the Minnesota Corn Innovation Grant Program continues to fund farmer-led research aimed at reducing nutrient loss on the farm. With 12 new projects funded for 2019, the investment continues to provide a wealth of on-farm data of practices proved effective in reducing loss.

Corn growers are also working alongside state officials to ensure any on-farm actions to protect our waterways are effective and workable for farmers.

In 2015, the Minnesota Buffer Law required farmers to install vegetative buffers between farmland and waterways. Recognizing buffers are not a singular solution, the state’s corn farmers worked with state officials to develop alternative practices that would provide equal or better effectiveness at protecting and improving nearby surface waters. Farmers now have a suite of options to choose from that best suits their land.

Minnesota corn farmers also worked with state officials to ensure the Groundwater Protection Rule worked in practice.

Minnesota’s corn farmers will continue to work towards becoming the most sustainable and environmentally responsible corn farmers in the nation. Each farmer knows the important role protecting water quality plays in reaching that goal.

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