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BWSR works with partner agencies to increase the usefulness of current soils data, update soil surveys in the state, and provide technical support and training to local governments.

Excessive Soil Loss

Recent changes in statute have changed BWSR’s responsibilities in working with local governments to prevent excessive soil loss. During the 2015 legislative regular and 1st special sessions the law was changed by:

BWSR initiated a rulemaking process in 2017, as listed below. That effort is currently on hold while BWSR consults with local government partners and other stakeholders to determine which of several options – rulemaking, improved guidance, or changes in statute – would be most effective in resolving soil erosion problems.  We are particularly interested in how counties and other local governments work to resolve complaints of excessive soil loss in cases where no ordinance has been adopted.

Soil Loss Resources and Guidance

BWSR has developed an Interim Guide for Excessive Soil Loss Complaints, designed for counties and SWCDs without a county soil loss ordinance. The guide, published in May 2016, walks through the procedural steps needed to respond to complaints associated with agricultural activities that may be causing excessive soil loss.  As of August 2018, this guidance is being revised and will be posted here in the next several months.

Background Paper: MN Statutes Chapter 103F Soil Erosion Law: History, Perspectives and Recommendations(2014).  This paper framed questions and comments around Minnesota’s present soil erosion law and suggested some possible approaches toward a retooled agriculture soil loss control law.

Model Ordinance for Agricultural Erosion Control.  This model ordinance was originally developed in 1994 and updated in 2014.  BWSR is currently working on another update of the model ordinance to correct some references and improve readability. Watch this page for updates.

Excessive Soil Loss Rulemaking Background

BWSR has been evaluating the options for updating the state rules governing excessive soil loss, as noted above. A Request for Comments was published in the State Register on February 6, 2017.  An initial meeting of a stakeholder advisory group was held on February 20, 2018 (see summary below).  A draft Administrative Penalty Order Plan was developed as a guide for the use of APOs by local governments. The APO Plan is currently on hold pending further consultation with local government partners. For further information, send an email to or contact Suzanne Rhees at 651-296-0768.

Soils data and resources

Current Projects

Tillage and Erosion Survey Project

BWSR was allocated funding from the Clean Water Fund (M.L. 2016, chapter 172, article 2, section 11) for a program to systematically collect data and produce county, watershed, and statewide estimates of soil erosion caused by water and wind along with tracking adoption of conservation measures to address erosion.

The purposed of this project is to:

Program Update - January 2018

Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR): Southeast Minnesota Soil Health and Cover Crop Initiatives

BWSR was allocated funds from the Environmental and Natural Resources Trust Fund (ENRTF) through Legislative Citizens Commission on Minnesota Resources (ML 2015, chapter 76, section 2, sub 4e) to promote cover crops as a means of protecting soil and water quality in southeastern Minnesota through training and education for local practitioners, economic analysis of implementation, and on-farm demonstration sites. This effort must be coordinated with the University of Minnesota Forever Green Initiative. This appropriation is available until June 30, 2018.


Field Activities

Soils Education

Dig it! The Secrets of Soil Link to Smithsonian Museum site- for interactive content and soils-related curriculum, see the website for this exhibit from the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History.



Minnesota Counties with a Soil Loss Ordinance

Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources

520 Lafayette Road North, St. Paul, MN 55155 | (651) 296-3767 | Fax (651) 297-5615 | TTY (800) 627-3529

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