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Minnesota Department of Agriculture Announces New Cost-share Program to Help Upgrade Irrigation Systems

Last week, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture announced a new cost-share program available to irrigated producers in 19 counties that is designed to help farmers upgrade their irrigation systems and adapt precision irrigation practices. The program is sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and the funds are being distributed by the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) who works in coordination with the National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) to implement regional projects that aim to address and measurably improve outcomes for natural resource concerns.

This opportunity is a 5-year project that is designed to help farmers improve their irrigation practices through a cost share of various technologies, from soil moisture sensors to upgraded irrigation and fertigation systems. There is also a heavy focus on farmer education through this program by way of farmer-to-farmer education and clinics to assist growers in the adopting of newer precision irrigation practices. EarthScout has attended a number of these events already this year to learn more about the funding, how the NRCS if promoting soil moisture sensors, and connect with local Minnesota irrigators.

The main purpose of this project is to ensure the quantity and quality of surface water and drinking water for Minnesota residents, all while saving farmers money on irrigation costs. Often, irrigated land contains course and sandy textured soils that are prone to leaching nitrates into the area groundwater, which can cause serious health problems if consumed.

We believe this program is set up for farmers in a way that provides them with the tools and education needed for success in adopting new technologies. We are happy to know there is funding available with a focus on education to ensure that our farmers are able to adjust to these new technologies to conserve resources without too steep of a learning curve.

EarthScout soil moisture sensors qualify under any tier of the project approach. Soil moisture sensors aid in adopting the practice of precision irrigation scheduling. You can learn more about our work with University of Minnesota Agricultural Scientist, Dr. Vasudha Sharma, on precision irrigation scheduling by watching our YouTube video highlighting the project.

We have attended and sponsored numerous educational events already this year showcasing these funding opportunities and providing resources for farmers to learn how to adopt these technologies and gain access to the available funds. We are excited to begin to see the response of farmers to these available resources and look forward to seeing the results of the programs.

In March of 2022, the University of Minnesota Extension ran the inaugural Minnesota Irrigator Program which educates on how to improve irrigation efficiency and reduce irrigation costs. We expect this program to grow along with this funding opportunity in the years to come and we look forward to attending future events.

There is a plethora of information on eligibility and how to sign up and apply for funding for this project through the AgCentric website. Sign up for the first round began on May 5th, and applications for this round of funding is open through June 17th!

EarthScout representatives are available to help you if you decide soil moisture sensors are the best route for irrigation scheduling on your farm. Call us at 877-443-7632 to learn more!

You may use the links below to contact your local Soil and Water Conservation District to apply for funding: