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On-Farm Network Delivers Innovation and Water Quality in the Sauk Watershed

                                                                         News Feature                                                           3/1/2011

On-Farm Network Delivers Innovation and Water Quality in the Sauk Watershed

The On-Farm Network, the Stearns County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) and NRCS are collaborating with farmers in Stearns County, Minnesota to better manage nitrogen being applied to fields and reduce the amount of nitrogen going into the impaired waters of Sauk River. The On-Farm Network’s corn stalk nitrate evaluation and replicated strip trial program uses a variety of tools, including remote sensing, GPS and yield monitors to collect data in real world conditions and improve water quality by matching fertilizer applications to crop nutrient requirements.

The following was achieved in 2010:

  • Implemented the On-Farm Network guided corn stalk nitrate tests on nineteen participating farms to develop a focused prescription for applying nitrogen.

  • Reduced nitrogen use on farm fields by 20 to 100% depending on manure application rates & crop requirements.

  • Reduced costs to participating farmers by 25 to 50%.

  • Improved water quality in the Sauk River and beyond by reducing the amount of nitrogen running off of 52 fields into area waterways, which empty directly into the Mississippi River. The Sauk River, and attached chain of lakes, is a popular recreational destination for boating, swimming and fishing.

The achievements in 2010 laid the groundwork for an expansion in participation and improved results in 2011. This project and other ongoing efforts by NRCS and its partners demonstrate farmers’ concern for the environment locally and downstream in the Mississippi River Basin.

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