The past year has provided numerous challenges, and a few opportunities. Our ability to gather and share information has been limited, with most farm shows and field days canceled or moved online. Some of the activities listed here have already taken place, but all are available online in our growing library of agriculture-focused water resources.
In recent years, the Minnesota Agricultural Water Resource Center has hosted several events providing updates on the Discovery Farms Program, nutrient management research and related water issues. All events are continuing during the pandemic in the form of online discussions.
The seventh annual Nitrogen: Minnesota’s Grand Challenge and Compelling Opportunity Conference will be held Feb. 9. This event, organized primarily by Fabian Fernandez of the University of Minnesota, provides updates on nitrogen-specific research from Minnesota and surrounding states. The following week, on Feb. 16, we will host the 13th annual Nutrient Management Conference with a similar format but addressing multiple crop nutrients. Register for those events at mawrc.org/events.
Last January, the Discovery Farms Programs of Wisconsin and Minnesota hosted a research summit focusing on the extensive data set accumulated in the two states. Planning for a similar event for 2021 was just underway when the pandemic struck. We settled on hosting a series of seven one-hour Zoom events addressing the overall theme of “Keeping Up With Your Conservation Goals Through Change and Challenge.” These discussions addressed topics ranging from cover crops and soil health to fertilizer and manure regulations.
Readers may already be familiar with the Minnesota Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program. Developed with a broad range of input and now administered by the Minnesota Crop Production Retailers, this program is built on the 4R nutrient stewardship principles promoting the use of best practices shown through science to improve profitability and protect the environment.
A two-part virtual field day took the place of the planned fourth annual 4R Field Day. Held in the fall of 2020, this program highlighted farmer efforts to employ 4R practices and provided an overview of how the fertilizer retailer certification program will work. Participating retailers will receive confirmation and recognition for providing their customers with appropriate fertilizer recommendations, mindful of the 4 R’s: right rate, right timing, right nutrient source and right placement.
We look forward to having direct interaction and conversations with you again soon. In the meantime, you can keep up on our events online, as all activities mentioned here are being recorded and can be found on our website and YouTube channel. For more information, go to mawrc.org/events or search for “MAWRC” on YouTube.
Formo is executive director of the Minnesota Agricultural Water Resource Center.