The Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program (MAWQCP) reached a milestone today with the enrollment of its 100,000th acre in the state. This voluntary program for farmers and landowners protects the state’s water resources. Since the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program’s inception, under Governor Mark Dayton in 2014, nearly 200 farms have been certified across Minnesota.
The 100,000th acre enrollment goes to Dean Marshik and Clare Palmquist, and their son Daniel Maurer. The family runs a 150-cow dairy and associated crop farm near Pierz in Morrison County.
Marshik is a longtime conservationist. Over the years, he’s implemented and maintained numerous conservation practices, including grassed waterways, water and sediment control basins, and diversified, water-friendly crop rotations.
The MAWQCP puts farmers in touch with local conservation experts to identify and mitigate any risks their farm poses to water quality. Through the MAWQCP, Marshik worked with Grant Pearson, the local program Area Certification Specialist, to look for ways he could continue to protect Minnesota’s water resources and build on his legacy of soil and water stewardship. As part of his certification, Marshik has increased his use of cover crops, altered his nutrient management, and is leaving more residue on one of his fields.
“The regulatory certainty piece of the program got me curious, but I am always looking at how I can leave my land better off for the next generation and this program helped me find ways to improve my stewardship,” said Marshik. “I’d urge every farmer in the state to consider getting certified.”
To date, the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program has kept over 7.7 million pounds of sediment out of Minnesota rivers, while saving nearly 10.3 million pounds of soil and 4,795 pounds of phosphorous on farms, each year. Those numbers will increase as more landowners enroll in the program. More than 391 new conservation practices have been implemented that protect Minnesota’s waters.
“Water quality is important to all Minnesotans, especially farmers, and this program is helping farmers and landowners ensure they’re doing everything in their power to protect and restore our state’s lakes, rivers, streams, and groundwater,” said Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson. “In turn, the public is assured certified farmers are managing their operations to protect water quality now and into the future.”
Minnesota Soybean was represented at today’s event by Director of Public Affairs Joe Smentek.
“As Dean said at today’s event, farm water quality affects the farmers first,” Smentek said. “It’s important for farmers to look at conservation on their farms to help limit these effects and maximize profits. This program lets them do that on their terms.”
In cooperation with Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCD) across the state, the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program became available statewide in 2015. After being certified, each farm is deemed to be in compliance with new water quality laws and regulations for 10 years. Certification is also an approved practice farmers can use to comply with the new state buffer law. Certified farmers and landowners can use their certification status to promote their businesses as protective of water quality. Those interested in the program can contact their local SWCD office or visit MyLandMyLegacy.com.