Nutrient and Water Management

The NWROC nutrient and water management research and outreach program is dedicated to finding mutually beneficial solutions for growers and downstream users of ecosystems. We study the interactions between water and soil fertility in the region’s agricultural systems. Our goal is to improve agriculture’s sustainability while maintaining grower profitability and minimizing environmental impacts.


Our research focuses on three primary areas:

  • Water management – We’re studying how subsurface drainage improves land productivity and impacts changes to the landscape in Northwest Minnesota and beyond.
  • In-field nutrient management and soil fertility – We’re examining how in-field practices like cover crops can impact soil fertility and erosion. The goal of this work is to find in-field management techniques that improve the soil structure and nutrient uptake to help prevent nutrients from running off fields and into waterways.
  • Phosphorus – We’re combining on-farm management data with existing P loss data to improve the Minnesota phosphorus index as a tool for estimating phosphorus loss risk. This will allow the tool to serve as a better guide for making efficient, effective fertilizer management decisions for Minnesota’s growers and watershed managers. Future work on phosphorus will study how edge-of-field phosphorus removal structures can remove phosphorus from agricultural drainage water.

Outreach and Extension

We share our research results and best practices with growers and ag professionals through digital media and in-person interactions. We help farmers find effective water and nutrient management strategies for their farms while building the resiliency of agriculture throughout the region.