Conservation Drainage Focus Group

Project Staff: 

Ann Lewandowski, WRC, University of Minnesota

Mark Dittrich, MN Department of Agriculture


This is part of the Drainage Systems Management Education and Stakeholder Feedback Workshops Project funded by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, Department of Natural Resources, Pollution Control Agency, and Board of Water and Soil Resources; and University of Minnesota Extension; through EPA 319 grant #C9-97593508-0

Project Duration: 

July 2009 through December 2010. Focus groups were conducted in January-February 2010.


The purpose of this study was to gain insight into how drainage professionals around the state think about “conservation drainage” practices. It is a study of the people most directly involved in implementing drainage, with the results intended for use by a broader group of all stakeholders interested in drainage and its impacts. As the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, University of Minnesota, and other organizations plan outreach, research, and water-related projects, this study provides information about the knowledge and perspectives of the people who actually design, install, and regulate agricultural drainage.


Nine focus group sessions were conducted with three stakeholder groups (engineers and agency staff, contractors and farmers, drainage authorities) in three locations (Crookston, Montevideo, Mankato). Each focus group was preceded by a presentation about the current state of research and policy related to drainage. During the focus group discussion, participants were asked about the barriers to implementing various drainage practices, and the relationships between drainage practices and water quality and flows.

Reports and Publications: