Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality

Certification Program


Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program - MAWQCP2016 Wollak Certification - Ag Water Quality Program

 Certifying that Minnesota's farms and waters can prosper together

 5/19/16 -

Benton County Farm certified in the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program

Benton Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) recognizes Joe Wollak’s farm for water quality. Wollak’s farm has earned certification under the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program (MAWQCP).

            Minnesota’s Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program certifies farmers and landowners for protecting water quality through a comprehensive whole-farm assessment that puts farmers together with local professionals to determine where risks to water quality exist on their farm, and empowers them to fix those risks when they are found. About 150 Minnesota farms representing approximately 80,000 acres, have received certification to date.

            The program is a voluntary opportunity for farmers and agricultural landowners to take the lead in implementing conservation practices that protect Minnesota’s lakes and rivers. Farm owners and operators who implement and maintain approved farm management practices will be certified and in turn assured that their operation meets the state’s water quality goals and standards for a period of 10 years.

 

 

            Joe Wollak’s farm, near Rice, consists of 40+ acres that are in a continuous rotation of alfalfa. Joe utilizes a unique cover crop between rotations of his alfalfa that consists of rye followed by sorghum-sudangrass. Joe raises 40+ head of Holstein Steers that he sells for beef. He also raises 250 chickens every year that he sells for meat to family and friends. “Not just in Minnesota, but across the Nation, water quality is going to be the biggest issue in the future, and we are going to have to address this issue,” Wollak said. Working with Benton SWCD staff and MAWQCP Area Certification Specialist, Grant Pearson, Joe had a comprehensive whole-farm assessment done to determine if his farm was certifiable in the program. “Getting certified in MAWQCP shows the public that farm owners and operators are doing their part to protect our natural resources,” said Pearson.

The MAWQCP is managed by the MN Dept. of Agriculture in partnership with local SWCDs and the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS). The program is growing in popularity within the agricultural community, with strong supporters such as GNP Company, Third Street Brewhouse & MN Milk Producers Association.

Farmers and agricultural landowners interested in seeking MAWQCP certification should contact their local Soil and Water Conservation District. The first step begins in filling out a program application. After the farmer has applied for MAWQCP the next step is to meet with technicians from their local SWCD and an MAWQCP Area Certification Specialist to review current baseline farm management practice information. That information is used to complete the water quality assessment process. A wide variety of management practices are reviewed including nutrient, pest, tillage, irrigation water management, tile drainage and existing conservation practices.

In order to be certified, each field within the operation is assessed using an online assessment tool followed by field verification. Certified farms must have a score equal to or greater than 8.5 out of 10 on the assessment tool and address resource concerned identified during the field verification process. Farmers who apply become eligible to receive priority status for technical and financial assistance which can be used to address conservation concerns (if identified) on their farms which helps achieve MAWQCP certification.

The Benton Soil and Water Conservation District is excited about this program and its potential to help farm owners and operators demonstrate their commitment to clean water and to accelerate the adoption of conservation practices where needed. If you are interested in the program, please contact Casey Gwost, Benton SWCD at 320-968-5300 ext. 3 or feel free to visit our office at 14 2nd Avenue West Foley, MN 56329. We will be happy to assist you in any way we can.

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