Home Discussion Forum Tile Drainage Discovery Farms Tile Project

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    Aaron Pape

    The Wisconsin and Minnesota Discovery Farms Programs recently received a Conservation Innovation Grant from USDA-NRCS to complete a project titled “Developing Diagnostics to Improve Water Quality and Soil Health on Tile Drained Lands in Minnesota and Wisconsin.” This project will allow us to continue efforts to identify the timing and mechanisms of soil and nutrient loss to the tile drainage systems.  We are working hard to get all of the new tile monitoring sites installed by the end of August.

    The Wisconsin project area is in the northeastern counties of Shawano, Brown, Door/Kewaunee, and Manitowoc. The Minnesota team is monitoring tile sites in Stearns, Renville, Dodge, and Norman counties.

    The water samples collected will be analyzed for suspended sediment (soil) as well as various chemical forms of the nutrients nitrogen and phosphorous.  In addition to water sampling, the team is collecting soil samples from all the tiled fields.  This will enable us to determine if elevated nutrient levels in the fields are responsible for any elevated nutrients that may be found in the water.  Several tests to assess soil health will also be conducted, including the Haney test.

    The farms where we are performing our research are varied and diverse.  There are dairy farms with animal numbers ranging from 60 to 2000 cows, and cash grain operations that farm several hundred acres to several thousand.  The soils and landscapes being studied are equally varied, from the flatlands of the Red River Valley in Northwest MN to the glacial hills of Northeast WI.  This broad diversity of farming operations allows us to collect information that will be useful to a wide range of farmers across the region.

    Discovery Farms is excited to begin this research project and to share our results with all of you in the farming community.  Stay tuned for more updates.Installs

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