Minnegram Winter 2020

Director's Corner

A message from Associate Director Joel Larson


Cover crops, compacts and impacts at the 2019 Minnesota Water Resources Conference
The Minnesota Water Resources Conference of 2019 opened and closed October 15-16 with plenary speakers expounding on the wide-reaching benefits of Minnesota water research across the state, country and globe.
Newly-installed University of Minnesota president Joan Gabel was the first speaker to address the over 900 conference attendees. She offered a by the numbers account of the breath of water research done at the university: 274 researchers in over 40 departments and 195 water-based courses offered demonstrate the U’s commitment to water research and management. Research at the University is inspired by issues peculiar to Minnesota, but impacts the world, said Gabel, engaging near and far, exporting the good work that is the cornerstone of what the university represents.

From Minnesota down the Mighty Mississippi - The Watershed Game takes hold in the Gulf of Mexico
By John Bilotta and Cynthia Hagley
The Watershed Game has extended its reach to the coast along the Gulf of Mexico. Now under development, new coast models for both the Local Leader and Classroom Versions will be available in 2020.The new coast models not only expand the Watershed Game’s geographic representation and use, but also add excess nitrogen as a pollutant of concern to excess phosphorus and sediment, the two pollutants addressed by the game currently. The new coast models also incorporate approaches to increasing community resilience in the face of extreme storms and sea level rise. 

Life in the pits: A look at soil management and crop health
By Jodi DeJong-Hughes
The small-group field day equipped participants with the skills to identify different levels of soil structure and help them understand how tillage and crop management strategies affect the soil. It was held at Galen Skjefte's field on September 10-11, 2019 near Granite Falls. 
Tillage has been implicated as a major contributor to soil degradation and erosion. It loosens the soil, making it prone to both wind and water erosion. The eroded soil also carries nutrients away from fields and into waterways, where soil can clog ditches and water structures with sediment. In Minnesota alone, wind and water erode over eight tons of soil an acre each year, according to USDA.

Nitrogen Smart program changes farming minds and fertilization practices
By Brad Carlson
Nitrates originating from agricultural situations have been a focus of water quality work in both surface and ground water in Minnesota for the past couple of decades.  The Nitrogen Smart educational program was developed in 2016 to teach farmers how nitrogen behaves in the environment.  It proactively addresses issues related to fertilizer application practices with the ultimate goal of seeing an increase in voluntary best practice use.  Increasing farm profitability through efficient nitrogen use is a co-objective of the Nitrogen Smart program. 

Banking Groundwater
By John Bilotta
For parts of the state, groundwater recharge may be a necessary tool for meeting the water needs of growing communities, competing uses and natural systems. Evaluating the economics, policy, engineering and hydrogeologic considerations now will allow us to consider enhanced aquifer recharge when, where and if it is needed. A team led by the Water Resources Center has brought together experts across science, engineering, economics, and policy disciplines, along with outside experts and stakeholders to evaluate the need for managed aquifer recharge.


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