2022 Report: Alfalfa for Water Protection

Farmer-Led Expansion of Alfalfa Production to Increase Water Protection

We are developing a novel prevention-based strategy for protecting water resources, based on a farmer-led,market-based working lands approach to enhancing protection of water in agricultural regions. Our project is based on targeted integration of the perennial crop alfalfa into corn/soybean-based farming operations. If carefully targeted, adding alfalfa to these operations will provide multiple benefits:

  • protecting water resources by reducing soil erosion and loss of nutrients from farms
  • reducing need for pesticides
  • improving soil health
  • supporting wildlife (such as pollinators)
  • enhancing production and profit for farmers and the agricultural industry.


Our project results will help enable application of this prevention-based strategy across most agricultural regions of Minnesota. Therefore, our project will advance a highly feasible, widely applicable, and sustainable solution to major water resource conservation challenges that have resisted solution for decades. Our project will innovate by developing new and widely-replicable methods for farmer-led protection of water resources, and by helping to develop extensive new markets for alfalfa. Beneficiaries include Minnesota farmers and the broader agricultural economy, and rural and urban communities that will benefit from improved water resources and from enhancements to the agricultural economy.