The Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program (MAWQCP) has launched their online story map to highlight certified producers on their conservation efforts to protect water quality. The online story map displays producers from around the state of Minnesota who are enrolled and certified in MAWQCP. Spring Water Acres LLC of Spring Hill, owned and operated by Dustin and Tom Frieler along with David Schoenborn, is water quality certified and the first Stearns County farm to be featured.
Spring Water Acres LLC became water quality certified in March 2020. Soil health and water quality has always been a significant focus of their operation. They regularly test their soil to ensure the necessary nutrients are available for a successful growing season, while understanding that their farming practices can affect the soil health and quality of water on their land and surrounding bodies of water.
“We decided to become water quality certified as there can be a lot of misleading information out there about agriculture,” said Dustin. “I think it’s important to show the public that we’re doing our part to keep water clean.”
The operation currently produces corn, soybeans, and small grains on over 4,000 acres, with approximately 75 of those acres are filter strips enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). They utilize a variety of tillage practices depending on the soil types and slopes such as no-till, strip-till, and mulch tillage systems to minimize nutrient loss and soil erosion. Additionally, they achieved advanced nutrient management on the assessment tool by utilizing multiple Best Management Practices to reduce the risks to water quality.
Stearns County SWCD Nutrient Management Specialist Mark Lefebvre works one-on-one with producers to become water quality certified. “When working with producers, I like to take a holistic approach to all of their farming practices, including how they fertilize, control weeds, and tillage,” Lefebvre said. “The program (MAWQCP) is a whole package for producers wanting to do their part to keep water clean. It’s just not putting a band-aid on one area as there may be multiple contributors.”
The Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program (MAWQCP) is a voluntary opportunity for farmers and agricultural landowners to take the lead in implementing conservation practices that protect water. Those who implement and maintain approved farm management practices will be certified and, in turn, obtain regulatory certainty for a period of 10 years as well as gain access to special financial assistance options. Through this program, the public can be assured that certified producers are using conservation practices to protect Minnesota’s lakes, rivers, and streams.
Not only do Stearns County producers obtain regulatory certainty, they also receive a 12-pack of Third Street’s Minnesota Gold Lager beer, a Third Street Brewhouse sign, and a MAWQCP sign to showcase their efforts on obtaining their water quality certified status.
To learn more about the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program and to view other story maps, visit www.mda.state.mn.us/environment-sustainability/minnesota-agricultural-water-quali ty-certification-program or contact Mark Lefebvre at the Stearns County SWCD at (320) 251-7800 ext. 3.