This is an introduction to a blog series for the Gorans Discovery Farm Project. In the blog series we’ll be discovering together new ways to collaborate for the good of farmers and our environment in Minnesota.
Agriculture is part of the fabric of Minnesota. In 2016, it generated $17.9 billion in farm sales, contributing significantly to our economy and communities around Minnesota. Our lakes and waters are also part of Minnesota’s identity and are vital to farmers, our communities, and our environment. We know it’s in our best interests to keep both healthy and strong. But how do we do that?
That’s where we come in. Who are we? We are a team of researchers from the University of Minnesota and the United States Department of Agriculture – Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS). Meet the current team here.
Back in 2007, we knew there were problems. For example, in central Minnesota near the town of Willmar there is a lake called Lake Wakanda. In the Dakotah language, Wakanda means “where the spirit dwells” or “spiritual place”. Like many of Minnesota’s beautiful lakes, it was in an area surrounded by small towns and communities, private homes, and agriculture. But something was happening to the lake. The waters were turning green and looked more like pea soup. There was a lot of blame being thrown around, but not much actual evidence for what was responsible for the lakes’ issues or what could be done about it.
Not far from Lake Wakanda is the Gorans farm. The Gorans raise millions of turkeys each year, helping to make Minnesota the top ranking turkey producing state in the U.S. The farm also grows corn and soybeans on tile-drained fields, like many farms around Minnesota. With their help, we were able to start this long-term research project in 2007, which continues to this day.
Monitoring equipment was installed in outlet tiles from three fields and the major stormwater ditch from the City of Willmar. Throwing blame around wouldn’t accomplish anything – we knew evidence was needed to understand what was actually going into our waters and from where. And we needed real, practical, and effective solutions for the people who live and work there.
Information from the first seven years of the study has recently been published in a peer-reviewed article you can find here. Our blog series will continue to walk you through our discoveries based on this article as well as new information from on-going research at the site. New blogs will be posted every 2-4 weeks and we hope you’ll continue reading to follow us on our journey as we get results and find new ways to work together.