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Extension > Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships > Central > Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems > Improving Water Quality In the Central Sands

Improving Water Quality In the Central Sands

Project files


This project focused on improving ground water quality by reducing nitrate losses in the central sands region. Research was designed to provide data to evaluate deep tillage as well as nitrogen source, time of applications, and rate on yields and leaching losses of nitrate.


  • University of Minnesota faculty Carl Rosen and John Montcrief, COFANS
  • Central Lakes College Agriculture Center
  • Minnesota Department of Agriculture
  • County Soil and Water Conservation Districts
  • Natural Resource Conservation Service
  • Local farmers


  • A replicated study was established with edible beans at the CLC Agriculture Center and on a cooperating farmer’s field in Staples, MN. Deep tillage was compared to shallow tillage on a Verndale sandy loam.
  • Nitrogen treatments were applied at planting, two weeks after emergence and pre-bloom. Treatments were replicated six times.


  • Identified tillage and nitrogen management options that result in profitable yields but minimize nitrate leaching. This will support farming practices that are profitable and environmentally sound.
  • The project was the initial phase of a more extensive and comprehensive study funded through the Legislative Commission on Minnesota Resources. Partnership funding allowed an additional cropping season of data.
  • The research has resulted in numerous publications, most recently in the Soil and Water Conservation Journal.
  • Information from this research also supported a Central Region Partnership project to test residential drinking water wells for nitrate contamination.


$15,000 from the Central RSDP

Leveraged resources

  • $587,000 LCMR
  • $112,500 CLC Agricultural Center (cash and in-kind)
  • $87,500 SWCDs (cash and in-kind)
  • $387,500 UMN (cash and in-kind)
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