Rosholt Research Farm located near Westport in Pope County was purchased by Pope, Kandiyohi, and Stearns SWCDs on May 27, 1968. The motivation to purchase property was to conduct soil and water research. After a lengthy study was conducted by a Soil Scientist, it was determined that the 40 acres had the required uniform soil type, soil depth, level, topography, and adequate water for the irrigation research. Eventually Pope SWCD became the sole owner of the farm.
Research at the farm over the years has been conducted by ARS Soil and Engineering Scientists from the Morris ARS Station. Cooperation research projects were conducted under the direction of University of Minnesota Soils and Agronomy Extension Specialists and Orville Gunderson, Area Soils Agent, Morris, Dean Eisenhauer and Jerry Wright, Area Irrigation Engineers, and Jack Morris, Pope County Extension Director who gave local leadership to conducting research and demonstrations. The US Forest Service conducted Cottonwood Research Trials. Pope SWCD in conjunction with WesMin RC&D planted Hybrid Poplar Stool beds in 1993. The stool beds were harvested every year in December.
Today, the stool beds are gone, however, research continues at Rosholt Farm. A new partnership between the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, University of Minnesota, Prairie Lakes Co-op, Pope and Stearns SWCDs is underway to provide a better understanding of nitrogen fertilizer management and the associated water quality impacts on irrigated, course-textured (sandy) soils. This project will assess nitrogen losses to groundwater resulting from different fertilizer application rates, application timing, and application methods and provide critical information on water quality impacts.
Water quality monitoring will be accomplished using specialized equipment called “suction-tube lysimeters” that are buried and strategically placed within the test plot. Water is pulled through lysimeters’ ceramic tip that is under vacuum, much like a plant root. 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. Researchers will also use high tech, in-field chlorophyll meters to measure plant nitrogen concentrations and provide information about plant nutrition during the growing season.
This partnership will reestablish the Herman Rosholt Farm as an educational hub for irrigators, industry, educators and policy makers. Additional outcomes include:
- Scientifically defensible nitrogen fertilizer recommendations for corn production in Central Minnesota
- Provide a clear understanding of the relationship between inputs, yields, and potential nitrogen losses to groundwater
- Assessment of Greenseeker technology and other optical methods for sensing plant nutrition
- Assessment of slow release nitrogen fertilizer products under irrigation
For more information about the Rosholt Research Farm contact Pope SWCD. This project is funded by the Clean Water Land & Legacy Amendment.