Director's Corner

A message from Associate Director Joel Larson


MN water conference committee members look back while planning for the future
The Minnesota Water Resources Conference brings back its mix of water research, policy and practice to the St. Paul RiverCentre October 15-16, 2019. In keynote talks and breakout sessions, attendees learn about strides in current research and application of research on the landscape. Keynote speakers this year are University of Minnesota president Joan Gabel, NPR meteorologist Paul Huttner and UMN faculty Don Wyse and Nick Jordan who will speak jointly about the Forever Green Initiative.
The annual conference is the result of eleven months of planning meetings, during which committee members assess the pros and cons of past conferences, review hundreds of abstracts for break out and poster sessions and choose keynote speakers for the upcoming conference.
Minnegram asked committee members Karen Jensen and Mark Brigham for their thoughts about the conference, its value to attendees and memorable moments.

Nutrient removal in modular bioreactors
By Jeff Strock
Field experiments were conducted at the University of Minnesota Southwest Research and Outreach Center (SWROC) in Lamberton, Minnesota to experimentally assess the impact of a novel two phase bioreactor design for removing N and P from agricultural subsurface drainage water. Modular bioreactors were constructed using mixed woodchips plus corn cobs for facilitating denitrification plus either crushed concrete, steel slag or limestone fragments for P sorption. Experimental bioreactors were installed adjacent to an existing drainage ditch/waterway.

Farmers demo conservation practices to preserve soil for future generations
By Anna Cates, State Soil Health Specialist
In the shade a big cottonwood in Becker County, thousands of dragonflies buzzed around the 40 people passing around handfuls of soil. “Feel how much lighter that one is? That’s where I’ve been doing no-till since 1979,” Mike Kucera explained. The USDA-NRCS Agronomist brought soil up from his home farm in Lincoln to show the gradient from a dense, compacted roadway to porous, root-filled healthy soil. The difference is stark: a preserved chunk of the healthy soil weighs ~60% of the compacted one.

Field Work podcast features Extension educators Brad Carlson and Jodi Delong-Hughes
By Brad Carlson
American Public Media/National Public Radio has launched a podcast series directed towards farmers called Field Work.  The series focuses on topics related to environmental stewardship and sustainability.  Extension Educators Brad Carlson and Jodi DeJong-Hughes from the Water Resources team were each featured in recent episodes.  DeJong-Hughes was on one of the first episodes and discussed practicing reduced tillage and some of her work and research in that area.  

OSTP completes analysis of CEC concentrations within on-site septic systems at MNDOT rest areas
by Jack Distel, Sara Heger, Sondra Larson, Dan Wheeler and Jessica Doro
An analysis of contaminants of emerging concern (CEC) within on-site treatment of human waste identified the prepotency of such systems to process CECs or transport them into the environment.

Watershed Specialist Training: Is It for You?
by Karen Terry
What does it take to be a strong and effective watershed manager? Obviously it requires a solid understanding of the science of water, such as the basic water cycle (hydrology), nutrient cycling (chemistry), limnology, best management practices to address issues (management techniques), geology, soils, and geography/cartography. But to be a good watershed manager requires a broader suite of skills because it’s not enough to understand the natural resources side of the equation: a good manager must also understand the human side of the equation and how the two realms intersect.


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