The Forrest Briard farming operation is now apart of the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program, a voluntary program whose purpose is to protect and improve water quality in local lakes, rivers and streams.

Forrest Briard has been operating his dairy, row crop, and forage farm seven miles northwest of Perham for about 26 years. He said he doesn't like to see the soil wash away, and this program helps prevent that.

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"It's actually a win-win, my yields are up 10-15 percent and cover crops keeps the soil from blowing away in addition to putting organic matter back in the soil," Briard said.

Three conservation practices Briard has implemented to protect water quality and prevent soil erosion are using cover crops, reduced tillage, and fertilizer and livestock manure management.

Briard plants his cover crops in the fall after he harvests corn silage, kidney beans, and potatoes. This prevents soil erosion caused by the wind and traps nutrients in the soil, preventing them from leaching into groundwater.

Briard started working with the local Soil and Water Conservation District about a year ago, and although he said there were some challenges, in the long run he feels it's worth it.

"The biggest challenge is taking the time, and there were some costs, but those were minimal with the help from the Soil and Water and Conservation District," Briard said.

Four state agencies, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Soil and Water Conservation Districts, County governments, and Watershed Districts share in the development and delivery of the program.

Jim Lahn, Minnesota Ag Water Quality Program Area Certification Specialist, said there are 520 farms with this certification in Minnesota, and 10 in Otter tail county.

Lahn said certified farms are allowed to use their status to promote their business and can obtain specially designated technical and financial assistance to implement practices that promote water quality.

For more information, contact Lahn at 218-346-4260 or go to