Ag Water Certification Program

The MAWQCP is a voluntary program through the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) designed to accelerate adoption of on-farm conservation practices that protect Minnesota’s lakes and rivers. Farm owners and operators who receive certification are assured that their operation meets the state’s water quality goals and standards for a period of 10 years. 

Russell Peterson



The Russell Peterson farm, north of Cosmos, received certification under the Minnesota Ag Water Quality Certification Program (MAWQCP).

Peterson, Russell cert pic 8_31_16
Russell operates a 289 acre farm with a diverse crop rotation consisting of barley, alfalfa hay, corn and soybeans.  This farm also raises beef (20 cow and calf pairs) and sheep (20 ewe and lamb pairs) utilizing a prescribed grazing program on pasture acres that includes four paddocks.  Each paddock is grazed for one week followed by a three week rest period to allow for vegetative regrowth.  Vegetative buffers are in place along waterways.  Open tile intakes are to be closed as part of this water quality certification to further reduce sediment and nutrient transport potential.  The nutrient management program follows University of Minnesota rate suggestions when applying livestock manure and supplemental fertilizer.  Lastly, Russell is utilizing a reduced tillage program to maintain crop residue cover and works with local agricultural retailers for pest management control on his cropland acres.

In addition to farming, Russ is an Agronomy instructor at Ridgewater College in Willmar.  He plans to incorporate the concepts of MAWQCP into his courses at Ridgewater and has made inquiry to have Grant Pearson, West Central MAWQCP Certification Specialist, make presentations to Peterson’s students.

Grant Pearson said Peterson understands that MAWQCP is recognizes crop production BMPs and the integration of water quality and soil health practices.  “Russell is an ambassador for the efforts of SWCDs and MAWQCP with the next generation of farmers.”


Winton Nelson

Winton Nelson


The Winton Nelson farm was the first farm in Meeker County to receive Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification.  Nelson was presented his certificate in late 2015 by Grant Pearson, Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program (MAWQCP) certification specialist, and Robert Schiefelbein, Meeker County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) Chairman.

To become certified, Nelson’s farm needed to score at least 85 percent on several assessments including nutrient, tillage, pest, irrigation and drainage management.  Through USDA programs and on his own, Winton practices herbicide and pest management, cover crops, irrigation management, conservation tillage and conservation crop rotation.  These practices aided Nelson in his quest to become certified in the program.