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Sep 01

First Week of Fall Fertilizer Rule

Posted on September 1, 2020 at 2:08 PM by Ryan Hiniker

Drainage update 9/1/2020


Upcoming Drainage Hearings or Meetings:

Blue Earth County has recently started hosting board meetings and some drainage hearings virtually.  Blue Earth County staff has been using a combination of live-streaming video and conference call-in options.  Notices sent out for drainage hearings will include all necessary information for our constituents to attend these hearings virtually via internet or through the call-in option.                                                      

First Week of Fertilizer Rule:

I have spoken about this fall nitrogen fertilizer rule in the past.  This relatively new state law has been known about for a few years as it was working its way through approvals.  The hope of decreasing nitrate levels in ground water and wells across Minnesota is the reasoning behind the fall fertilizer rules.  Nitrate levels in ground water and drinking water sources has been on the rise for many areas of Minnesota for years. 

Many municipalities are now having to install expensive, state-of-art filtration systems, in hopes of reducing nitrate levels to acceptable levels in their cities drinking water supply.  The bigger cities and communities are finding ways to make the filtration switch, often by grant funding and assessments.  While the smaller communities struggle to find the funds and resources to deal with the growing issue.

The areas of the state that are affected by this fall fertilizer rule are primarily central and southeastern Minnesota.  These are the areas of the state that have lighter soils, also called Karst soils.  These types of soils are very mobile, in that water, nutrients and fertilizers work through the soils very quickly.  Leaving it harder for plants in these soils to hold onto nutrients and water.  Many of these growers and producers living in these karst soil areas have been avoiding fall fertilizer applications for years already.  With heavy costs of commercial fertilizer and the lack of return on the yield end, growers in these areas of Minnesota self-taught themselves to fertilize in the spring and mid-season, in some cases.  The fall nitrogen fertilizer rules apply to fall applications of commercial fertilizers.

Some clean water groups are less than impressed by the lack of push and punishment by the fertilizer rule.  The rule will give growers a three-year grace period, before any penalty or enforcement will be applied.  Criticism on who should pay for the costs associated with cleaning up nitrates in drinking water is also a concern.  Sustainability for us all, depends on innovative and alternative ideas. Change is a necessity, not a novelty.  For further reading check out the link provided.                                                                                 

Project Updates:  

  • JD34 (LeRay Twp.)  All checklist items have been completed.  Looking to close this project out this year. 
  • CD05 (Medo and Danville Twps.)  Not much action in the last week for this repair, but the new concrete weir is working great.  With good weather, we are hoping that the contractor will have this repair finished up in the next couple weeks.
  • JD09 North (LeRay Twp.)  No change from last week.
  • CD48 (Cambria Twp.)  No change from last week.  We are waiting until after harvest to make sure all checklist items are complete.                                                                                        

Recent Drainage Inspections:

  • CD56 (Garden City Twp.)  We are hoping to have our last small area of repair done this week depending on the weather.
  • JD17 (Garden City Twp.New tile installed and water seems to be draining much better.
  • CD05 (Danville Twp.) Just monitoring repair work of our crews.
  • JD82, JD85 and JD116 (Pleasant Mound Twp.)  Making inspections to areas along the open ditch.  We have a crew that is spraying for trees, brush and some noxious weeds.    
  • JD24 (Shelby Twp.)  Inspecting the open ditch area.  Found many areas in need of repairs.  Most of the repairs are areas in need of an alternative side in-take, to control the flow of water into the open ditch area.  These areas in need of repair are very dangerous for inspection and maintenance staff. 
  • JD38 (Sterling Twp.) Contractor was out maintaining areas of open ditch that had heavy tree growth along small portions of open ditch.jd38 pic 2
  • JTD83 (McPherson Twp.)  Tree and brush removal have started to portions of the open ditch.  Sediment cleaning and outlet repairs should be starting in the next couple weeks.jtd83 repair

Do you have questions or topics about drainage that you would like to here more about? If you would like me to incorporate those concerns or topics in one of my future blogs, please feel free to email me at the listed email address below. 

We have multiple contractors making repairs across the county currently.  Please report repair issues to our drainage staff as soon as you notice them, as this will expedite the time in getting those repairs made.

We require that all repairs to a county drainage system (tile or open ditch) be authorized by one us in the drainage office, either Craig or myself, before any repairs are made.




Ryan Hiniker

Drainage Management Specialist