The North Dakota Discovery Farms Experience


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For more: Many states conduct water quality monitoring projects and within the past decade, sub-watershed and whole farm water quality monitoring has gained more traction as a preferred method to understand runoff and nutrient loading behavior. The one aspect of these projects that has evolved is the level of partnering. Partnering not just with technical and academic groups but fully partnering and involving the landowner or resource manager. The Discovery Farms model is a great example of a fully partnered, adaptive management water quality monitoring project that began in Wisconsin and has grown to formally include North Dakota, Minnesota and Arkansas. The main objective of the Discovery Farms projects is to fully engage producers in the identification and if necessary the reduction of nutrient and sediment losses from a variety of agriculture farming systems by collecting runoff data from real, working farms. The program is founded on the belief that farmers who are engaged, educated and empowered with actual on-farm information will use the data to address water quality concerns. The concept has demonstrated successes and is gaining interest around the country from producers and their commodity organizations.

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The North Dakota Discovery Farms Experience

  1. 1. What I Am Learning andImplementing Based on DataCollected on My FarmDoyle JohannesND Discovery Farms Core Farm OperatorUnderwood, ND
  2. 2. History of Involvement• Started investigating feedlot runoff issues in2005• Looked to the future of sustaining the farmingoperation for the next generation
  3. 3. Why I Got Involved in DF’s
  4. 4. Doyle Johannes, Underwood400-600 custom fed & backgroundingEdge of feedlot monitoring
  5. 5. What I am Learning
  6. 6. Table 1. Total Nitrogen Load and Runoff Flow at theEdge of a Feedlot (G1) and 1/2 (G3) mile down-landscape from the feedlot during the snowmelt periodof 2009, 2010 and 2011.G1 G3Total Nitrogen Load (lbs) 11793 5441Total Flow (cu ft/sec) 14 70Nutrient Loading from Feedlot
  7. 7. What I am Learning• Biggest loss of nutrients from feedlot area isduring snowmelt.• Over a three year period, summer rainfall eventsrarely triggered collection at station 3.
  8. 8. My Response• Need to decrease risk of snowmelt runoff leavingfeedlot area• Installed clean water diversion around feedlot
  9. 9. DiversionNew Feed BunksDiversionUpdated Bunk
  10. 10. Unexpected Learning Opportunities• Several visits from EPA officials
  11. 11. Questions?
  12. 12. Other Discovery Farm sites in ND• Tile drainage monitoring near Embden, ND• Edge of field/Out-wintered cattle runoffmonitoring near Dazey, ND
  13. 13. Kent & Keith Bartholomay, Embden300 cows & backgroundingTile and surface drainage monitoringTile OutletTile OutletSurface Drainage
  14. 14. Kim and Denise Amann, Dazey200 cows & backgroundingEdge of Feedlot monitoringBaldhill Creek
  15. 15. Next Steps• Need to characterize runoff behavior• Soil sample down-landscape area below feedlotand tile drain• Funded partially by ND Corn Council
  16. 16. Questions?Doyle Johannes701.442.3526doylej@westriv.comRon WiederholtCarrington Research Extension