The latest water-related news and events
The latest water-related news and events
A monthly e-newsletter from the North Central Region Water Network
March 2021
Farm field in southern Wisconsin in March

Network News

Happy Spring! The daffodils are in bloom where we are and the frogs are singing – nature is getting busy as the weather warms. 
The Network and our teams have been busy. Our harmful algal bloom (HAB) team - the Algal Bloom Action Team - hosted their first webinar in a series of webinars that will follow January's HAB Symposium. The team was recently awarded the Association of Natural Resource Extension Professionals' Outstanding Regional Collaborator Award for their work on the symposium. Congrats to team for all their great work! 
Our soil health team, the Soil Health Nexus, has also been busy continuing their popular Digital Cafe Series. Their latest webinar saw record attendance and featured Brian Dougherty from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach who discussed soil health and soil carbon dynamics. 
This month also saw our drought team release their newly developed interactive digital guide on drought scenario planning and host a workshop to get feedback on the new resource.
Its amazing what we all have been able to accomplish from our kitchen tables, basements, and home offices. Here's to another month of progress and limited April Fool's day suprises. Hope you all have a wonderful spring ahead.

-Rebecca Power and Anne Nardi, the North Central Region Water Network team

P.S. Want your water questions answered by colleagues? Use the North Central Region Water Network listserv to get answers quickly. To subscribe, email
Frozen vegetative buffer. Photo by Jason Vanrobaey

The Current
Nutrient Reduction Best Management Practices in Cold Climates
Wedensday, April 14, 2021 at 2pm CT

In April 2019 partners across the Red River Basin of the North came together for a workshop to examine the available research on the effectiveness and suitability of nutrient reduction agricultural beneficial management practices (BMPs) in cold climates. Our April edition of The Current Webinar series will feature three workshop organizers who will discuss the workshop, how it came together and why more discussion around nutrient reduction BMPs in cold climates is needed. Speakers will also share the main research gaps identified and the BMPs the group broadly agreed were highly effective in reducing N and/or P loading in the basin. Register here
Photo by Jason Vanrobaey
Students installing a rain garden. Photo by Kate Gardiner

Network Spotlight
New Community of Practice gives Extension and Sea Grant another string in their bow when serving communities

Aging water infrastructure, extreme weather, and pressure from residents for green space and community resilience are bringing about changes to the way cities around the country are thinking about stormwater management. In times past, preferred practices funneled water into pipes underground, moving it away from the built environment as fast as possible. However, these practices can impair water quality and do not always solve flooding problems. Increasingly, communities are considering green infrastructure as part of their stormwater management plan. Read on
Photo by Kate Gardiner
Screenshot of the Great Lakes Watershed Management Program

Leadership Spotlight
Farmer-Led Networks being established in Michigan’s Saginaw Bay area to Increase Nutrient Management Activities

Agricultural lands make up over 45% of Michigan’s Saginaw River watershed’s land area. Increasing the adoption of nutrient management practices by farmers in this watershed is a major goal of a project aimed at improving water quality in the watershed and Lake Huron.  Nutrient runoff, particularly phosphorus, has been identified as a major contributor to water quality degradation in the watershed. Excessive phosphorus concentrations to water bodies result in excessive plant and algal growth, including harmful algal blooms. Read on

In The News

Upcoming Events

Great Lakes Regional Sediment Management Workshop
April 6th, 13th, 20th, 27th, 2021

The Great Lakes Regional Sediment Team is hosting a series of webinars focused on water quality, nutrient reduction and regional sediment management in the Great Lakes.  The webinars will occur each Tuesday in April at 2:00 pm EDT and will cover urban stormwater and green infrastructure, coastal systems and sediment transport, habitat and restoration, agricultural nonpoint source runoff. Learn more

2021 Iowa Water Conference
April 6-8, 2021

The Iowa Water Conference will feature over 70 presentations from 80+ presenters from Iowa and across the Midwest. Topics will address COVID-19 impacts on water, climate change, flooding, conservation adoption, and more. Plenary speakers will present on an array of topics inducing drinking water infrastructure, green infrastructure, climate change, community flood resilience, agriculture and provide a journey along the Mississippi River. Learn more

Leveraging Advances in Remote Geospatial Technologies to Inform Precision Environmental Health Decisions
April 14-15, 2021

This free virtual workshop will explore how advances in the resolution of geospatial technologies could inform “precision environmental health”— targeted public health interventions that reach the right populations at the right time. This workshop is being convened by the National Academies’ Standing Committee on the Use of Emerging Science for Environmental Health Decisions. Learn more

Soil Health Digital Cafe
April 21, 2021

The Soil Health Nexus is hosting a series of informal soil health webinars featuring soil health experts and researchers from across the region discussing the latest soil health research, resources, and news. April's digital cafe will feature Laura Bryant, Deputy Director of Water and Agriculture at the Natural Resources Defense Council, will discuss policy making in relation to soil health. Learn more

Funding and Opportunities

Conservation Partners Program 2021 Request for Proposal
The Conservation Partners Program (CPP) is a collaborative effort between the USDA NRCS, General Mills and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. The purpose of the partnership is to provide grants on a competitive basis that will support the adoption of conservation practices and regenerative agriculture principles on working lands. Funded projects will advance goals of: 1) NRCS’s landscape conservation initiatives; 2) NFWF’s conservation priorities; and 3) the NRCS–U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service partnership, Working Lands for Wildlife. To maximize benefits to these priorities, the CPP targets investments in identified program priority areas. Pre-proposals are due April 6, 2021. Learn more

NCR SARE Graduate Student Grant
The North Central Region SARE (NCR-SARE) Graduate Student Grant Program supports projects by graduate students that address sustainable agriculture issues and are part of the student’s degree program. NCR-SARE instituted the Graduate Student Grant Program in 2002 for officially registered graduate students (Masters and Ph.D.) enrolled at accredited colleges or universities. Projects must benefit agriculture in the North Central Region. NCR-SARE’s Graduate Student Grant Program is a competitive grant program to fund graduate student projects that address sustainable agriculture issues. Applications are due April 8, 2021. Learn more

Missouri NRCS Conservation Partnership Funding
The Missouri NRCS, an agency under the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), is seeking opportunities to partner with, and support the efforts of, likeminded natural resource conservation partners. The overall intent of this solicitation is to solicit partnerships to help provide outreach, education, and technical assistance on USDA-NRCS programs including, but not limited to, conducting conservation outreach workshops, conferences, and training that will help educate Missouri’s farm community, private landowners, conservation organizations, cooperating agencies, and general citizenry. Applications are due May 15, 2021. Learn more


Researchers use 30-year cropping systems experiment to evaluate if farm fields can serve as carbon sinks - Organic Broadcaster

There’s a palpable buzz around soil carbon in the agricultural community. It’s exciting to see so much attention and energy directed toward addressing climate change and, in particular, so much exploration about how agriculture can be part of the solution rather than part of the problem. Investment organizations are clamoring to find the scheme where their capital will “do good.” Read on

Climate change is warming Lake Michigan deep water, say researchers - MLive Media
The trend is subtle, but there. The temperature of deep water in Lake Michigan is slowly warming and scientists consider it a troubling sign of climate change, which could alter ecological conditions in the Great Lakes by shifting the schedule on which deep and shallow lake water mixes together each spring and fall. “We’re seeing warming not just at the surface in the summer, but way down into the water column, below 100 meters,” said Eric J. Anderson, lead author of a peer-reviewed study published this month in Nature Communications, which analyzed 30 years of hourly measurements to conclude that Lake Michigan’s deep water is gradually retaining heat. Read on

Manure improves soil and microbe community -

In the dry air and soil of Texas' Southern High Plains, improving soil health can be tough. We usually think of healthy soil as moist and loose with lots of organic matter. But this can be hard to achieve in this arid area of Texas. Lindsey Slaughter, a member of the Soil Science Society of America, set out with her fellow researchers to test a solution that kills two birds with one stone. Read on

New Study Details Financial Risks And Rewards With Conservation Farming Practices - The Daily Scoop

Conservation practices are readily available for U.S. farmers to implement, but financial roadblocks commonly stymie their adoption. A study done in 2020 between the Soil Health Partnership (SHP), Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and accounting firm, KCoe Isom, measured the outcome of conservation practice adoption on seven Midwest row-crop farmers and determined the financial impacts of adoption on each farmer’s bottom line. 
Read on

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