Discovery Farms Minnesota
Minnesota Department of Agriculture
The Discovery Farms program is a farmer-led effort to gather information on soil and nutrient movement on farms in different settings across Minnesota. The mission of Discovery Farms Minnesota is to gather water quality information under real-world conditions, providing practical, credible, site-specific information to enable better farm management.
Water monitoring stations are located on working Minnesota farms. Overland/surface runoff and tile drainage samples are collected automatically, whenever runoff occurs. Monitoring occurs 365 days per year. Samples are tested for sediment, phosphorus, nitrogen and choride.
Currently there are eleven Minnesota Discovery Farms. This includes three new sites that were established during the early fall of 2012. The program is expected to grow and include a few more sites.
Discovery Farms Minnesota emphasizes farmer input and direction, allowing producers to take the lead in identifying issues and designing and testing solutions.The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) is supporting the Discovery Farms program by providing technical assistance and expertise in water monitoring. Visit MDA's Clean Water Fund Discovery Farms webpage for a list of MDA's responsibilities.
To learn more about the program visit the Discovery Farms Minnesota website.
About the Issue
Discovery Farms Minnesota was launched in 2009 by farm organizations and commodity groups, specifically the Minnesota Water Resource Center (MAWRC) with the support of the MDA and the University of Minnesota Extension.
Discovery Farms Minnesota provides:
- Baseline data on the environmental performance of Minnesota farms
- Information on how farmers can adopt best management practices
- An educational environment where farmers learn from each other
Discovery Farms Minnesota emphasizes farmer input and direction. A steering committee comprised of representatives from Minnesota farm, agribusiness and conservation organizations guides the overall direction of the program, assists in the identification of research priorities and helps in the selection of cooperators and projects. The steering committee also includes non-voting members from state and federal agencies and the University of Minnesota.