Promoting the Adoption of Best Management Practices in the Minnesota River Basin through Comprehensive Farm Planning

Project Staff: 

Principal Investigator: James Anderson, WRC Co- Director and Professor, Department of Soil, Water, and Climate

Additional Staff: Lowell Busman, U of M Extension Service; Gary Sands, U of M Extension Service, Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering; Les Everett, Water Resources Center


Minnesota Department of Agriculture

Project Duration: 

October 2000 - June 2003


Development of the River-Friendly Farmer Checklist and Resource Guide

The Cropland Assessment System has been used and modified during the last few years. During this same time the River-Friendly Farmer Project has been active in promoting best management practices and recognizing farmers who use them. These two projects will be merged through the development of a resource guide that will combine the assessment and information aspects of the Cropland Assessment System with the simpler format and recognition aspects of the River-Friendly Farm Award. The combined guide will contain:

  • A checklist of best management practices
  • Background information on these practices
  • Information on where to obtain additional help
  • A guide for developing an action plan to address identified problems
  • An application form for the River-Friendly Farmer Award

The River-Friendly Farmer Checklist and Resource Guide will be designed to be a brochure that can be used in a variety of settings. This brochure could function as a "lead" document to promote adoption of improved practices by Minnesota farmers. Its format will be the result of considerable experience with the other tools and the need to have a brief checklist but a more complete guide for additional resources. Support for its use will be solicited from producer groups, farm business management programs, agricultural chemical marketing companies, watershed groups, as well as Extension Educators.

Home Page on Farm Planning

A home page for farmers will be developed to provide access to information on farm planning. This page will be patterned after the Idaho One Plan program. This page will be designed to complement the River-Friendly Farmer Guide described above. The following is a list of the areas to be included on the home page:

  • Comprehensive farm planning
  • Nutrient management
  • Manure management
  • Soil erosion control
  • Financial analysis and planning
  • Environmental regulations
  • News on agriculture

Presently, considerable information is available electronically over the internet. However, there is not a convenient location for farmers to gain access to information from the University, State agencies, and private groups on farm planning. This site will function to provide new information on farm planning and several links to existing information. In addition a display and brochure will be developed to promote the home page that can be used at fairs, field days, etc. Several copies will be made for use around the Basin.

Development of a Farm Planning Module on Drainage

Presently, most farm planning tools have not addressed agricultural drainage. Recent research has shown some of the impacts of drainage on the Minnesota River and the potential ways for managing drainage to lessen negative impacts on water quality and flow. A series of brochures on agricultural drainage will be developed that will complement the River-Friendly Farmer Guide and the web page described above. Some of the proposed titles for sections of this series include:

  • Introduction to a drainage system
  • Why drainage systems are needed?
  • Basic design of a drainage system
  • Economics of drainage
  • Maintenance of a drainage system
  • Impact on water quality
  • Impact on downstream flooding
  • Recommended management practices on drained land
  • How to modify a drainage system
  • Determination of benefits to drainage systems
  • Protection of wetlands
  • Alternatives to drainage
  • Drainage law

This brochure will be made available through the University of Minnesota Extension.