WRC’s Watershed Innovations Grant Program creates opportunities for collaboration, innovation

The WRC has launched the Watershed Innovations (WINS) Grant Program. WINS develops project portfolios which fund innovative research of water resource concerns in Minnesota. WINS is also designed to assist U of M researchers in collaborative work at the intersection of multiple disciplines, educate graduate students and other early-career scientists, and sustain research efforts through other sources. 

Four inaugural projects launched in Spring 2021, investigating the impacts of nutrient loss from  farmland on ground and surface waters. Minnegram asked the lead researchers to describe the expected benefits of their projects.

Assessing the implications of chloride from land application of manure for Minnesota waterways
"Expected benefits of this project include an increase in the quantity and quality of manure chloride data to support modeling efforts and a better understanding of if and how manure chloride leaching differs from that of synthetic fertilizer." Lead researcher Melissa Wilson

Investigating whether soil health systems improve field workability and quality of life

"This project will assess the soil response to rainfall under different management systems, estimate field working days and their economic impacts, and explore the importance of field working days for farmer quality of life and stress levels. Goals include providing evidence for soil function and farm management as it relates to visible physical soil properties and informing messaging to increase enrollment in existing cost-share programs." Lead researcher Anna Cates

Protecting Groundwater: An Assessment of hydrophysical and social risks

"The results from our work will allow us to identify and spatially analyze nitrate contamination risks to groundwater under different climate and land-use scenarios, and assess the social value of and perceived risks to water-related ecosystem services." Lead researcher Amit Pradhananga

Nitrogen Rate, Cover Crops, and Living Mulches: Their Impact on Irrigated Corn and Soybean Production and the Environment

"For decades, Minnesota has relied on research conducted in more arid regions where precipitation and the water balance of cropping systems are substantially different. This research will be pivotal towards generating water balance information to guide efficient irrigation practices specific to Minnesota." Lead researcher Fabian Fernandez:

"WINS projects will help us realize the WRC's goal of finding lasting solutions that restore and protect water resources while providing new opportunities for producers," said WRC Director Jeff Peterson

WINS is funded by CFANS and the Water Resources Research Institutes program at the USGS to support and amplify the work of U of M scientists conducting high-impact interdisciplinary research at the intersection of water, land, and people.