Workshop in Crookston, Minnesota examined the agricultural BMPs most effective in cold climates

Last month Network staff Rebecca Power and Anne Nardi joined partners from across the Red River Basin for an Agricultural Nutrient BMP Workshop in Crookston, Minnesota. The workshop explored the state of the science surrounding the effectiveness of BMPs to reduce Nitrogen and Phosphorus in the cold climate of the Red River Basin of the North.

Mike Ell, formerly of the North Dakota Department of Health, and Linda Kingery, of the University of Minnesota-Extension, hosted the meeting along with the North Central Region Water Network, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada, NRCS, NDSU Extension, SDSU Extension, the University of Manitoba, Manitoba Agriculture, Manitoba Sustainable Development, the International Plant Nutrition Institute, the MN Department of Agriculture, the MN Board of Soil and Water Resources, the UW Division of Extension, the ND Association of Soil Conservation Districts, the ND Department of Agriculture, the ND Soybean Council, Barr Engineering, Pembina Valley Conservation District, and the Red River Basin Commission. Network Leadership Team members Naeem Kalwar and Tom Scherer of NDSU Extension and John McMaine of SDSU Extension were also part of the workshop planning team.

The two-day conference featured a number of presentations on nutrient management, erosion and runoff control and vegetative and structural BMPs from technical experts across the region.  Presentations and discussion also focused on how the effectiveness of these BMPs vary depending on basin climatic conditions, soil type, and topography among other factors.

A large portion of the workshop was dedicated to breakout sessions where participants discussed what BMPs worked well and where, which areas are the most vulnerable within the basin, and research gaps that need to be addressed.  Network staff helped facilitate the breakout groups and arranged for trained facilitators from NDSU Extension, MN Extension and UW Division of Extension to attend to help guide the breakout discussions, ensure the conversations were accurately recorded, and challenge participants to bring multiple data-points together to propose actionable solutions.

Kingery noted the diverse stakeholders from across the basin involved in the workshop helped make it a success. “Sharing research and learning together is essential for developing strategies and tools for nutrient reduction.  I’m grateful for the leadership Mike Ell provided, the broad participation, and the collaborative spirit of the participants.”

The notes from the breakout sessions and workshop presentations are now in the hands of David Mulla, of the University of Minnesota, and David Whetter, of AgriEarth Consulting, who will be creating a technical report on the N and P BMPs discussed at the workshop and a framework for BMP effectiveness.

The workshop was sponsored by the Red River Watershed Management Board, the Red River Join Water Resource District, the Red River Retention Authority, the University of Minnesota Extension, the North Dakota Department of Health and the International Water Institute.

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