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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 focused attention on BWSR’s responsibilities in working with local governments to address excessive soil loss. During the 2015 legislative regular and 1st special sessions the law was changed by:

In response to the changes in statute, BWSR adopted draft guidance in 2016 and initiated a rulemaking process in 2017.  After receiving input from counties, agricultural interests, and other stakeholders, the Board has determined that there are differing interpretations of the revised statute, and that further action on rules or guidance should be put on hold pending further consultation with stakeholders and partners on the most effective ways to address excessive soil loss.

Board Rescinds 2016 Resolution on Soil Loss Guidance and Rulemaking

At its October 25, 2018 meeting, the Board of Water and Soil Resources rescinded Resolution 16-32.  The resolution, adopted on May 25, 2016, established interim guidance for agency staff and local governments to use when responding to complaints of excessive soil loss, and directed staff to initiate a rulemaking process.

Board Resolution 18-63, which rescinds the prior resolution, directs staff to continue seeking input from counties, soil and water conservation districts, and other stakeholders on alternatives for local options to address excessive soil loss.  The Buffers, Soils and Drainage Committee is directed to report back to the Board annually on the status of this effort.

Soil Loss Resources

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.

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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