The revised version of the Nitrogen Fertilizer Management Plan (NFMP) will be released the winter of 2015 in which the Minnesota Department of Agriculture will outline new regulations for nitrogen fertilizer applications. The new regulations will be based on the nitrogen best management practice (BMP) regions as well as areas that were identified to be vulnerable for groundwater contamination as illustrated in the map to the right. The Central Valley Coop territory falls in the South Central region which will restrict fall and winter application of urea and anhydrous ammonia without the use of a nitrogen inhibitor with in the vulnerable areas. The BMPs that are used for these regulations are developed by the University of Minnesota. Originally developed for Minnesota in the late 1980’s-early 1990’s, BMPs were developed as a tool to manage N efficiently, profitably, and with low environmental loss. These practices are based on hundreds of “site years” worth of University agronomic and environmental research and the understanding of the nitrogen cycle. The 2013 draft of the NFMP states that “while acknowledging that no generalized recommendations are relevant 100% of the time, BMPs represent a combination of practices that will reduce risk of excessive N loss in a normal year.” While currently these practices are promoted as voluntary, the new NFMP proposes that once farmers have been notified about specific BMPs for their region they will have three years to comply and adopt the practices before additional rules will be applied.
In 2010 the MDA partnered with the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) along with University of Minnesota researchers to collect information about fertilizer use and farm management practices. Approximately 1500 corn farmers from across the state were contacted for this survey over the phone. The information collected provided the MDA and University of Minnesota a benchmark of what current nitrogen management practices are.