Tricounty News

MDA offering free irrigation water testing

This summer, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) is helping farmers address a potential wild card in their nutrient management programs Ð the nitrogen content of their irrigation water.

According to MDA Water Quality Advisor Jennifer Gallus, accurate nitrogen crediting requires knowledge of the nitrate concentration in irrigation water and an estimate of the amount of water normally pumped during the period when the crop is actively taking up nitrogen.

"Proper nitrogen crediting and nutrient management leads to improved water quality," Gallus said. "Some farmers may already be taking the proper credits for soybeans, alfalfa, and manure, but they may not be aware that their irrigation water also could be a significant source of nitrogen."

To assist irrigators in properly determining nitrogen content, MDA is partnering with the Central Minnesota Irrigators Corporation to provide free nitrate testing. To sample the irrigation well, run the pump for 20-30 minutes prior to sampling. Collect about one-half cup of water in a Ziploc bag or a clean jar. Prior to filling the container, label it with a waterproof marker. Identify with a unique number that you will remember. Drop off the sample(s) at a location listed below anytime during normal business hours from July 6 to July 20. Call the drop site after July 22 to find out your results.

Drop sites include:

¥ Crop Production Services, Sauk Centre

¥ Crop Production Services, Perham

¥ Pierz Co-op, Pierz

¥ Prairie Lakes Co-op, Park Rapids

¥ Central Ag Service, Eagle Bend

¥ Crop Production Services, Wadena

¥ Belgrade Co-op, Belgrade

¥ Central Lakes Ag Center, Staples (8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.)

¥ Todd Soil and Water Conservation District, Long Prairie

¥ Hubbard Soil and Water Conservation District, Park Rapids

¥ Morrison Soil and Water Conservation District, Little Falls

Postcards will be sent in early July to Central Minnesota Irrigators Corporation member irrigators as a reminder about this opportunity. Non-members are also encouraged to participate free of charge. Names and locations of wells will not be collected. For more information, farmers are encouraged to call Gallus at (320) 543-3150.