The Central Lakes College Ag & Energy Center’s farms (Staples) have been honored as Water Quality Certified by the Minnesota Ag Water Quality Certification Program.

Whitney Place, Minnesota Department of Agriculture Assistant Commissioner, presented the Water Quality Certified Farm sign to the Center’s staff on Aug. 23 during their annual Field Day. The CLC Ag & Energy Center joins over 800 Minnesota farming operations that are now Water Quality Certified in this five-year old voluntary program that includes small, large, crop and livestock farms.

“Central Lakes Ag & Energy has led the region in innovation and conservation for decades, so achieving water quality certification fits well into that rich history of leadership,” said Keith Olander, Ag & Energy Center’s Farm director.

A combination of conservation practices is needed to achieve Water Quality Certification, and Olander recognizes that their farm management decisions need to include a strong emphasis on conservation.

“I believe as a research and demonstration farm in highly sensitive soils, we can be a leader by adopting and continuing practices that support farm viability and environmental sustainability,” Olander said.

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The CLC Ag & Energy Center practices conservation through irrigation management techniques, fertilizer management, soil sampling, conservation tillage, cover crops, grass filter and riparian buffer strips and field windbreaks. The farm conservation practices means that surface water and groundwater are protected, valuable topsoil is maintained, and these resources are conserved for future generations.

Farm operators and owners throughout Minnesota are eligible to be involved in the Minnesota Ag Water Quality Certification Program. Producers interested in learning more can contact their local Soil & Water Conservation District office or Jim Lahn at (218) 457-0250.