The Water Quality Certification Program is a voluntary opportunity for farmers and agricultural landowners to take the lead in implementing conservation practices that protect our water. Once enrolled, certified producers receive priority for technical assistance and “regulatory certainty.” Certified producers are deemed to be in compliance with any new water quality rules or laws.
Our 100-acre farm, which we acquired about two years ago, was accepted into the Water Quality Certification Program because we are restoring the land’s hydrology and improving its water quality with our poultry-centered regenerative agriculture. Before we acquired the farm two years ago, the land was typical of the marginal lands in the region, with enhanced drainage systems and soils depleted by decades of conventional corn and soybean farming.
Our system not only avoids contaminating the water; testing indicates that implementing our model in hydrologically sensitive areas like the Dakota County site of our farm has the potential to remove nitrates from underground waterflows from surrounding conventionally farmed land destined for the Mississippi River.
Our model is based around the symbiotic relationship between livestock and perennial crops and grains. Poultry provides a source of bio-available nitrogen (manure) that entirely removes the need for synthetic fertilizers (and, as an added benefit, has doubled the yield of our hazelnuts over conventional yields). The model’s deep root systems built around perennial hazelnuts and elderberries increase the soil’s nitrate carrying capacity, virtually eliminating the leaching of nitrates endemic to conventional, shallow-root chemical-intensive agriculture.