Nitrogen fertilizer management plan comment period opens this week

The Minnesota Agriculture Department holds the first of six public meetings this week on it's new nitrogen fertilizer management plan for state farmers. The plan's goal is to prevent or minimize the impact of nitrogen fertilizer on drinking water.

Farmers commonly use nitrogen fertilizer on their crops. When it gets into groundwater supplies, though, it can be a big problem. At least two dozen communities around the state have high nitrate levels in their drinking water. Rock County land management official Doug Bos served on the advisory committee that helped write the draft plan. He says a big step forward in the plan is that it gives fertilizer regulators a way to deal with nitrate problems.

"There would probably be certain areas where nitrogen applications could be limited," Bos said. "Or the producer would need to use a product like a slow-release nitrogen. But it may be such that those would be required."

The first meeting is scheduled for Marshall this Thursday, Sept. 5, at 5 p.m. in the public library. Other meetings this month are set for Crookston, Wadena, St. Cloud, Rochester and Roseville.

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