||The Mission of the Pope Soil and Water Conservation District is to promote, guide, and provide technical assistance for conservation of land and water through project implementation.
NITRATE RESEARCH CONDUCTED AT ROSHOLT RESEARCH FARM
Amanda Conaway was recently hired by the Pope Soil and Water Conservation District as the Hydrologist Intern at the Rosholt Research Farm near Westport, Minnesota. She grew up in Roseville, MN and then moved to St. Cloud with her fiancé to attend St. Cloud State University. Amanda is currently pursuing her degree in hydrology with minors in geology and meteorology. She is very passionate about the environment and loves outdoor activities, especially hiking with her two dogs. She will work on this project through the end of the summer and the data that she is collecting will be important for understanding water quality impacts on specific soils.
The purpose of the study in Westport is to provide a better understanding of nitrogen fertilizer management and the water quality impacts on irrigated, sandy soils. The study will assess nitrogen loss resulting from different nitrogen fertilizer application rates, application timing, application methods and slow release nitrogen fertilizer products all under irrigation.
Root zone water is collected from a series of lysimeters (a porous ceramic tipped PVC pipe placed about 4 feet deep in the root zone). Lysimeter sample lines are enclosed in protective PVC pipe and buried in trenches below the surface so normal tillage and other farming operations can be performed. Water samples are collected weekly during the entire growing season and analyzed on site using a Hach Ultraviolet Spectrophotometer. The Hach machine analyzes the nitrate concentration in parts per million (ppm). Water volumes collected from the eight drain gauges provide information about water flow through the soil root zone. All of the data that is collected over the growing season is sent to the University of Minnesota to help revise nitrogen fertilizer recommendations for irrigated coarse-textured (sandy) soils.
There are risks associated with high levels of nitrates in the groundwater that directly affect our everyday lives. High levels of nitrates that get into our streams and lakes can cause overstimulated growth of aquatic plants. This in turn can possibly take up all of the dissolved oxygen that is contained within the water and cause large fish kills. High levels of nitrates in the groundwater can also be harmful to humans and livestock when consumed in concentrated amounts. It can occur naturally in groundwater at levels typically in the range of 0 to 3 parts per million (ppm). Human activities such as sewage disposal, livestock production, and lawn and crop fertilization can potentially elevate the level of nitrate in groundwater. Nitrate has been found above the 10 ppm drinking water standard in Minnesota groundwater (specifically drinking water), mainly in areas of sandy and rocky soil that allows for fast movement of water through the soil. Infants younger than 6 months are extremely susceptible to the harmful effects of high levels of nitrates in the water.
A couple of important events will be held this summer and the details will be put in the paper in early June.
This program has been funded by a grant to the Pope SWCD from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. The current grant expires in 2016. This is a unique public private partnership effort. The following agencies have partnered on this project to make it a success: Pope SWCD, Stearns SWCD, Minnesota Department of Agriculture, University of Minnesota, and Prairie Lakes Coop.
Intern Hired to Help Control Invasive Weeds
Jessica Oldakowski, a 2014 Biology graduate from the University of Minnesota, Morris was recently hired as the Cooperative Weed Management (CWMA) Intern for the Pope Soil and Water Conservation District. She grew up on a dairy farm north of St. Cloud Minnesota and has remained interested in agriculture and the outdoors. Over the last couple of years Jessica was employed with the USDA Soil Lab in Morris working on a Pollination Project. At Ag Reliant Genetics, she was a harvest intern and assisted in corn production line work. She enjoys working with plants, animals, and oilseed crops. A few of her hobbies include being outdoors, hunting, fishing, crafts, and playing tennis.
Jessica will continue the work under the Cooperative Weed Management program including education, documentation of infested sites, treatments, and re-seeding with local native seed. Our main goal with this program is to reduce the environmental and economic threats posed by invasive plant species in the grasslands of Pope and Swift Counties. Education and raising awareness of the significance of these threats is key to achieving our goal.
The CWMA partners are: MnDot, Pope County Highway Department, Pope County Land and Resource Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, The Nature Conservancy, Department of Natural Resources, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Farm Service Agency, University of Minnesota Extension Service, and the Pope and Swift Soil and water Conservation Districts. These partners have established a steering committee and are working together to make this program a success. For more information or to report an infestation contact the CWMA intern Jessica Oldakowski at Jessica.email@example.com or call 320-634-7793.
Get to Know Your Local Conservation District
Across the United States, nearly 3,000 Soil and Water Conservation Districts—almost one in every county—are helping local people to conserve land, water, forests, wildlife and other natural resources. The Pope Soil and Water Conservation District is proud to be a part of this locally-led, voluntary movement, serving as a resource for landowners and farmers of Pope County for more than 66 years.
Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) are local units of government established under state law to carry out natural resource management programs at the local level. SWCDs provide voluntary, incentive driven approaches to landowners for better soil and cleaner water in the State of Minnesota. Private landowners with financial and technical assistance from local SWCDs are implementing a wide variety of conservation practices including restoring wetlands, planting shelterbelts and buffers, and preventing soil erosion.
Here in our county, Pope Soil and Water Conservation District is engaged in a number of local conservation initiatives, including: water, sediment and erosion control, urban storm water projects, grassed buffer establishment, youth and adult education on conservation, groundwater research under irrigation at the Rosholt Research Farm, and much more.
Born in the wake of the Dust Bowl, SWCDs have been involved in delivering conservation across America for more than 70 years. Because Minnesota has a wide variety of landscapes and conservation needs, each district operates at the direction of five locally elected board supervisors. This local perspective allows SWCDs to specifically manage the resources and serve the needs of the citizens in their district.
Soil and Water Conservation District staff and supervisors build partnerships with public and private, local, state and federal entities in an effort to develop locally-driven solutions to natural resource concerns. We work with landowners every step of the way from planning to implementation.
Our work results in clean water, healthy wildlife habitat and productive soil. To learn more about what Pope Soil and Water Conservation District is doing and how you can partner in their efforts, call 320-634-5327 or stop in.
The Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts is the non-profit organization that represents Minnesota’s 89 Soil and Water Conservation District and the 445 men and women who serve on their governing boards. For almost 70 years, local Soil and Water Conservation Districts have worked with cooperating landowners and managers of private working lands to help them plan and apply effective conservation practices. MASWCD’s website is at www.maswcd.org
MN Walk In Access Program
Pope County landowners have an additional way to earn income off their land this spring by enrolling into the Walk In Access Program (WIA). The primary objective of the Walk In Access Program is to provide new hunting opportunities on private lands currently enrolled in conservation programs with quality wildlife habitat, such as the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP), Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), Reinvest in Minnesota (RIM), and the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP). Other natural lands may also be eligible for enrollment if high-quality habitat exists.
In 2014, Minnesota had 20,708 acres enrolled into the Walk In Access Program and Pope County had 10 sites totaling 555 acres. Once enrolled, the land is open to public hunting access during any open hunting season, including spring turkey. The location of areas enrolled will be publicized in an annual book and posted on the DNR website. Bright yellow-green signs will be installed along WIA boundaries once land is enrolled. WIA land is for hunting only. There is no target practice, trapping, dog training, camping, horseback riding, driving, or fires allowed on the property. Landowners are protected from liability, unlike private leases. Trespassing and hunting violations will be dealt with by DNR Conservation Officers.
Eligible sites must meet the minimum size of 40 acres. Acreage smaller than 40 acres may enroll if the land is contiguous with a Wildlife Management Areas (WMA), Waterfowl Production Areas (WPA), or another WIA resulting in at least 40 contiguous acres open to public hunting. Landowners sign into a one year or multi-year contract, with the ability to cancel the contract at any time without penalty.
Payment rates for signing up with the WIA program include:
- $10/acre base payment
- $1/ac. incentive payment if area is more than 140 acres
- $1/ac. incentive payment if land is located within a half-mile of other public hunting (WMA/WPA)
- $1/ac. incentive payment for a multi-year agreement.
So if you have land in CRP, RIM, WRP, CREP, or any other conservation program and would be interested in earning extra money off of it please contact Britta Haseman with the Pope Soil & Water Conservation District. You can stop by our office at 1680 Franklin St N in Glenwood or call us at 320-634-5327. We would be happy to answer any questions and assist with enrollment of your land. For more information, you can also visit www.mndnr.gov/walkin. Deadline for enrollment is June 1st, 2015.
Environmental improvements are adding up in Pope County due to Legacy funding Glenwood, Minn.— Nearly 15 environmental projects have been funded in Pope County on behalf of an application written by the Pope Soil and Water Conservation District thanks to the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment – and the improvements will start to add up. The Pope SWCD received notice in late January that they would be receiving $126,900 in funding. This funding will help address some of the erosion concerns that were a result of a storm event from June 2013. Projects that will be eligible for the cost share assistance will include: grade stabilization and water and sediment control basins. If you are interested in these types of practices and have erosion issues, contact Pope SWCD staff.
Through the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources’ (BWSR) Clean Water Fund grant program, nearly $60 million has been invested in “on-the-ground” projects, where citizens and local governments are installing conservation practices to improve the quality in our lakes, rivers, wetlands and groundwater.
Holly Kovarik, District Manager said investments made through these grant programs are noticeably improving Pope County lakes and rivers. These projects will be implemented in the next two years.
“Because of the Legacy funding, we’ve been able to complete more conservation projects than ever before. The lakes and rivers in Pope County are being cleaned up or protected and the funding is creating jobs and improving property values. It’s a win-win situation,” Kovarik said.
Irrigation Scheduling Helps Conserve Groundwater
Recently there has been a lot of information and attention brought forth by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) regarding groundwater and its sustainability.
Many of you may have attended the public meeting that was held on February 26, 2014 at the Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa High School Auditorium. The Pope Soil and Water Conservation District staff and some of the board members also attended this meeting. The Bonanza Valley area has been selected as a pilot in establishing a Groundwater Management Area (GWMA). The DNR has established this GWMA to help improve groundwater appropriation decisions and help groundwater users better understand and plan for future development opportunities.
So what does that mean for us here in Pope County? Almost half of the County is included in the Bonanza Valley GWMA and there has been a large increase in the number of new well permits requested. These have been primarily for new irrigation systems. A committee has been established to advise and help the DNR develop a process to address the concerns focusing on sustainability. There are more users of our groundwater resources and increased scrutiny due in part to this. This process will unfold over a year and will include multiple meetings.
The Pope SWCD Board feels very strongly about participating in these meetings and would encourage you to share your thoughts with staff or board members on this process. We plan to submit formal comments on the plan and process as it is developed. Ultimately this plan belongs to the DNR and they are the regulating agency.
The Pope SWCD plays a part in groundwater conservation implementation and education efforts. One of the groundwater programs we have been implementing is the Irrigation Scheduling Program which we have offered since 2005.
Now may be the time to add this service to your operation. This program is designed to give the producer a second opinion on in-field moisture status that can assist the producer on when to irrigate. The decision to irrigate is still the producers. The producer will need to notify the SWCD office of weekly irrigation and rainfall amounts, emergence dates, crops planted, spraying dates, and harvesting dates. The technician from the SWCD will provide:
1. Weekly visits to check soil moisture
2. Furnish weekly computer soil moisture graphs
3. Conduct Irrigation System Uniformity checks (as needed)
4. Provide a year-end summary (graph) showing irrigation totals, rainfall amounts, and potential leaching events (This information will help with DNR Waters Year End Reporting Requirements.)
The fee is $250 per field per year. The SWCD specializes in voluntary programs and efforts by producers and has had a proven track record of success in doing so. This Irrigation Scheduling Program provides you with an additional tool not only to document the water use that is necessary for the crop to gain the best yield but also keeps the water use and conservation of it in mind when it is possible.
Stop by the Pope SWCD office to visit with Kelly to sign up or learn more about this program.
Pope SWCD Starts Shoreline Program
Native shoreline habitat restorations are an excellent alternative tool compared to rock riprap to prevent lakeshore erosion, beautify shorelines, and generate habitat for pollinator species and fish nesting zones when aquatic plants are used. Native plants, when compared to traditional turf grasses have much deeper and more complex root structures; this is what gives natives the power to fight erosion and also to filter out harmful algae causing nutrients from lawn care products.
The District is currently working on building a shoreline program here in Pope County. There is great potential with the vast number of shoreline miles and lake residences located within the county. There are currently 4 landowners with projects underway from a current grant. We have also submitted a grant application to the DNR for shoreline projects for 2014 and 2015. We are currently seeking applicants to generate a list of interested individuals for the potential funding. If you are interested in native restoration please stop in or call us at 320-634-5327.
Photo taken from DNR Restore Your Shore website
County Comprehensive Water Plan Approved
The Pope County Comprehensive Water Plan was recently approved by the Board of Water and Soil Resources. This is the plan that will guide the next five years of project and program implementation by local agencies in Pope County. A full copy of the plan is available here…