Farming for Soil Health and Water Quality Resources

Concern for ecosystems, soil health and water quality aren’t new concepts but rather traditions and values of many ancient and modern indigenous people from across the globe. The foundational practices and principles of organic, sustainable and regenerative farming are rooted in indigenous worldviews and lifestyles. The resources below outline the studied benefits, drawbacks and nuances of many of these practices in a Euro-centric academic and agricultural environment in the Upper Midwest. 


Soil Health Information:

Water Quality Information:

Minnesota Best Management Practices: 

Top Three Management Practices:


Cover Crops:


Conservation Tillage:




Top Three Conservation Practices Overview:

This section in progress, please check back later!

Cover Crops:

Conservation Tillage: 

Integrating Livestock:


Minnesota’s Buffer Law: “Minnesota's Buffer Law requires perennial vegetative buffers of up to 50 feet along lakes, rivers, and streams and buffers of 16.5 feet along ditches. These buffers help filter out phosphorus, nitrogen and sediment.” - Board of Soil and Water Resources (BWSR)

Minnesota’s Buffer Law:

Comprehensive literature review by BWSR


Research on the benefits: 

  • Buffers reduce movement of applied nitrates from tile drainage

    • Jaynes, D. B., & Isenhart, T. M. (2014). Reconnecting Tile Drainage to Riparian Buffer Hydrology for Enhanced Nitrate Removal. Journal of Environmental Quality, 43, 631–638.

  • Water quality, hydrologic function biodiversity of wetlands (MNDoT)

  • Buffers trap sediment and phosphorus 

    • Hoffmann, C. C., Kjaergaard, C., Uusi-Kämppä, J., Hansen, H. C. B., & Kronvang, B. (2009). Phosphorus retention in riparian buffers: review of their efficiency. Journal of Environmental Quality, 38(5), 1942–1955.

  • Using lime or iron to reduce phosphorus release

    • Kirkkala, T., Ventelä, A.-M., & Tarvainen, M. (2012). Long-Term Field-Scale Experiment on Using Lime Filters in an Agricultural Catchment. Journal of Environment Quality, 41(2), 410.

While a bit dated, we highly recommend checking out this chart from the 2012 edition of the Agricultural BMP Handbook as an overview of the status of conservation practice research as of 2012. 




Morrison Gallery

University of MN - Morris

600 E 4th St

Morris, MN 56267

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Supported by the Legacy Amendment, MN State Agencies, the Minnesota Historical Society and the McKnight Foundation.

The City of Morris and the University of Minnesota Morris reside on Anishinaabe and Dakota land.