The University of Minnesota’s West Central Research and Outreach Center (WCROC), Morris is the first U of MN entity to achieve certification through the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program (MAWQCP). Administered through the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, this voluntary program allows farmers and landowners to demonstrate best management practices with regard to cropland adoption and helps identify new practices which can positively impact water quality and conservation practices that help protect our environment.
A MAWQCP certificate signifies that participating farmers and landowners will be deemed in compliance with any new water quality rules or laws during the period of certification, are taking a proactive approach to future water quality issues and concerns in Minnesota, and are using conservation practices to protect Minnesota’s lakes, rivers and streams. Currently, over 1,050 producers and 750,000 acres are water quality certified in Minnesota.
Certification is for ten years and provides many advantages. When completing the application, landowners get a bird’s-eye-view of their entire operation, which allows a glimpse into areas that need improvement. Some changes are simple and inexpensive, such as using water quality tile inlets to filter soil and debris from water before it reaches a tile drainage system. In addition, the WCROC has also changed to No-Till farming practices on erodible land and has installed a biofilter at a tile discharge point to reduce nitrogen flow into the watershed.
“Historically, the WCROC has had a strong commitment to water quality, conservation and mitigating our impact on the environment,” reports Curt Reese, WCROC Crops Coordinator. “We have numerous projects and activities that exemplify our dedication to protecting the environment. Becoming MAWQCP certified is an important step for us to take as we look to the future.”
The certification process was completed by Curt Reese, WCROC Crops Coordinator, and Lee Johnston, WCROC Director of Operations. Assisting with the application were Darin Huot and Brad Heins, WCROC Dairy program; Grant Pearson, West Central MAWQCP Certification Specialist; and staff at the Stevens County Soil & Water Conservation District office: Matt Solemsaas, Director, John Lembcke, Assistant Technician and Steve Linow, Civil Engineering Technician.