Click on any of the below Programs or Services to expand it’s description

Ag BMP Loan Program


Low Interest Financing For Water Quality Improvement                  (CLICK HERE to be routed to Dept. of Ag website)
  • Provides low interest financing to farmers, rural landowners, and agriculture supply businesses to encourage agricultural best management practices that prevent or reduce runoff from feedlots and farm fields and other pollution problems identified by the county in local water plans.
  • Provides loans for projects that reduce existing water quality problems caused by agricultural activities or failing septic systems.
  • Helps landowners comply with water related laws or rules.
  • Can be used with state and federal cost share or other sources of funding
  • Has funds available in most counties
Who May Apply for Loans –AgBMP
Rural Landowners
Agriculture Supply Businesses
What are Eligible Activities –
Feedlot improvements, manure storage basins and spreading equipment.
Conservation tillage equipment.
Terraces, waterways, sedimentation basins.
Shore and river stabilization.
Septic systems.
Other projects that improve water quality.
What are Ineligible Activities –
Projects already completed
Improvement for feedlots with more than 1,000 animal units
Constructing a few facility
Activities for operations that have criminal proceedings against them
Where to Apply – The program is run locally through the Morrison Soil and Water Conservation District.  The contact person for the loan program is Helen McLennan.
Application Process – 
1. The borrower proposes a project to Morrison SWCD for approval.
2. If the borrower is eligible and the project addresses local water quality problems, Morrison SWCD may approve the project and refer it to a lender / banker.
3. The lender / banker evaluates the financial details of the project and decides whether to offer a loan.
4. The lender and borrower negotiate the terms of the loan.
5. The borrower completes the project.
6. The borrower provides bills and receipts for the cost of the project to the lender / banker.
7. The lender / bank requests money from the AgBMP Loan program.
8. The AgBMP Loan Program sends the requested money to the lender / bank.
9. The lender / bank issues the loan to the borrower.
10. The borrower pays back the lender / bank.
11. The lender / bank pays back the AgBMP Loan Program.
Local Decision Making – The Ag BMP Loan Program allows local governments, Morrison SWCD, the flexibility needed to address specific local water quality concerns.  The local loan fund is jointly administered by a local government, Morrison SWCD, and a cooperating local bank or financial institution.
The Local Government helps farmers, agriculture supply business and landowners identify problems and find solutions to water quality issues related to the agricultural industry or failing septic systems.
The Local Banker is responsible for assessing the economics of the proposed project and determining if a loan is financially feasible for the individual. The banker makes lending decisions, administers the loans, and collects payments from borrowers.  Because the money is a loan and must be repaid, only those projects that are financially feasible and provide environmental benefits will be funded.
Amount of Funding Available – Each year $10 million is available for loans in Minnesota.  the AgBMP Loan program  is funded by the Minnesota State Legislature, the Minnesota public Facilities Authority, and the U.S. Environmental protection Agency and is administered throught the Minnesota department of Agriculture.  No Grants are given by this program.  Please contact the Morrison Soil and Water Conservation District if you are interested in this program.
Terms of Loans – Loan amounts are limited to $200,000 to any one individual or project.
Maximum Loan Length – 10 years
Maximum Interest Rate – 3%, interest plus usual and customary fees charged by the lender.
The county and local banker may set additional terms and requirements for eligibility of projects.
These loans are meant to encourage water quality protection and may only be used to solve existing water quality problems.
3% 9%
5 $10,000 $781 $2,455 $1,674
5 $30,000 $2,344 $7,365 $5,021
7 $50,000 $5,496 $17,574 $12,078
10 $100,000 $15,873 $52,011 $36,138
CLICK HERE to see: AgBMP Program Brochure
Potential borrowers should contact Helen McLennan at Morrison Soil and Water Conservation District for more information about loan availability in the county.     (CLICK HERE to view contact information)
CLICK HERE to download:  AgBMP Loan Application   (First Step!! ALL Loan Applications MUST be brought into Morrison SWCD for approval prior to continuing on with steps 2 – 11)
Buffer Program / Law

BUFFER PROGRAM / LAWThe Buffer Law that was signed into law by Governor Dayton in June 2015 was amended by the Legislature and signed into law by Governor Dayton on April 25, 2016. These amendments provide clarifications to several provisions of the law, including the buffer requirement by ensuring it only applies to public waters and public ditches and compliance and enforcement responsibilities and processes. Additional details on these changes are provided in the documents below.


CLICK HERE to view “Frequently Asked Buffer Questions”….     (CLICK ON PICTURE below; you will be routed to BWSR website…)


Conservation buffers are best described as strips or other areas of land in permanent vegetation that help control pollutants and manage other environmental concerns. Filter strips, riparian buffers (predominantly trees and shrubs next to water courses), field borders, grassed waterways, field windbreaks, shelterbelts, and contour grass strips are all examples of conservation buffers.

Buffers can be especially helpful to you in maintaining a productive, profitable, and responsible farming or ranching operation. Today, America’s farms and ranches do more than produce crops and livestock. They play an important role in maintaining the environmental quality enjoyed by all citizens. Conservation buffers can help you protect soil, air, and water quality and improve fish and wildlife habitat…while you demonstrate your commitment to land stewardship.

HOW BUFFERS PROTECT WATER                                                 (CLICK below & to the right to view larger images)




You can use conservation buffers along streams and around lakes or wetlands. They can also be installed within fields or at field edges. Buffers are most effective when they are combined with other practices, such as conservation tillage, nutrient management, and integrated pest management. Together, these practices can provide you with an effective, profitable conservation program.




Forest / Woodlands
The goals of forest plantings can vary greatly from natural regeneration efforts following logging operations to the seeding or planting of trees and shrubs into agricultural fields to establish forest stands.
Native Buffer / Shoreline Restoration


Shoreline projects include lakeshores, ponds and streambanks. These are typically areas of high wildlife use and can play an important role for water quality improvement and slope stability.

The Native Buffer Program is a voluntary program that encourages the creation of high quality shoreland and streambank buffers that protect water quality within the Mississippi River Watershed.  A shoreland buffer is a naturally vegetated plot of land, located between the water’s edge and the land uphill.  A shoreland buffer can be composed of a mix of native aquatic plants, grasses, wildflowers and/or shrubs and trees.  Basically, it is undisturbed land at your shoreline; this means that your lakeshore would not be mowed or manicured into a sand beach. 
Shoreland Buffers provide benefits to people, the environment, wildlife, and aquatic life.  Restored vegetation at the lake’s edge restores the function of the ecosystem which originally protected the lake before it was altered by humans.  Some of the benefits of a buffer include: filtering of pollutants such as sediment and phosphorous out of runoff from uphill land uses, prevent shoreline erosion by holding soil in place (native plants have deep root systems), provide habitat for wildlife, deter geese from congregating on the lakeshore, and they allow for more leisure time to relax and enjoy the nature of life at the lakeshore.
Morrison SWCD has no current funding available to assist Mississippi River watershed residents with buffer design and cost-share of up to 75% of the total project cost.  However, the funding is limited and available on a first come-first serve basis.
Native Buffer Program contracts are for 15 years from the date the agreement is signed.  Planting must be done with local eco-type seed with a goal of 25 species per site.  For buffer cost-share very minimal grading is allowed.
All projects are approved for cost-share by the Morrison SWCD Board of Supervisors and cost-share reimbursements are provided after the project is complete. 
If you’re interested, the SWCD could also work with your engineer on the site layout and provide the technical assistance needed to qualify for the program.
CLICK on each of the below links to view a series of YouTube videos
to provide technical information on erosion control and restoration methods.
Native Prairie Reconstruction
Native Prairie Reconstruction

A variety of state programs focus on the reconstruction of native prairie communities. Reconstruction refers to efforts to establish a native plant community in a disturbed site such as an agricultural field. Program goals for native prairie reconstruction can vary widely from establishing perennial species to stabilize soil, and provide cover for game birds to establishing high diversity plantings to provide wildlife habitat for a variety of species.
Observation Wells

Morrison SWCD currently monitors the water levels of 16 wells in Morrison County.
This data provides a good historical picture of the fluctuations in the water table.
The static water levels fluctuate according to dry and wet periods as can be seen in
hydro-graphics of the wells.
Ob Wells PicMonitoring of ground water levels in Minnesota
began in 1942 and, starting in 1947, was expanded
by a cooperative program between the DNR and the
United States Geological Survey (USGS). The number
of observation wells (obwells) has remained constant
at approximately 750 obwells over the last few years.
Data from these wells are used to assess ground
water resources, determine long-term trends, interpret
impacts of pumping and climate, plan for water
conservation, evaluate water conflicts and otherwise
manage the water resource. Soil and Water Conservation
Districts (SWCD) and other co-operators, under agreements
with DNR Waters, measure the wells periodically and
report the readings to DNR Waters as part of the Ground
Water Level Program. Readings are also obtained from volunteers and electronically at other
locations.  The data from these recordings is then used to assess groundwater resources,
determine long-term trends and interpret the impacts of pumping and climate. The readings
also help DNR and our staff plan for water conservation, evaluate water conflicts and manage
the water resources in the county. Findings for the DNR wells are reported to the DNR Waters
Division and are available online for public viewing at
Plant Community Restoration
Plant Community Restoration

Plant community restoration refers to efforts to restore intact/remnant plant communities such as prairies, savannas and rare wetland communities. Restoration is often accomplished by removing invasive species, or restoring natural disturbance such as prescribed fire.
Raingardens and Biofiltration Areas

                        … absorb water, reduce runoff, prevent flooding
What are Rain Gardens?  Rain gardens are depressional areas landscaped with perennial flowers and native vegetation that soak up rainwater.  They are strategically located to capture runoff from impervious surfaces, such as roofs and streets.  Rain gardens fill with a few inches of water after a storm and then water filters into the ground, rather than running off to a storm drain.


Why are Rain Gardens Important?

Designing and Planting Rain Gardens

Rain Gardens and Low Impact Development

Rain Garden Illustrations

More Information About Rain Gardens

This rain garden is strategically placed to capture
runoff from the lawn and street.  Rain gardens can
also be designed to capture roof and sidewalk runoff.
Stormwater Basins
Stormwater Basins
Stormwater basins are often areas of high disturbance due to fluctuating water levels, pollutants and sedimentation. Plants are often needed that can handle these conditions such as floodplain forest species.  More water tolerant species are commonly planted in the base of detention basins, while dry prairie, mesic prairie or woodland species are typically planted on side slope. Stormwater basins are prone to invasion of weed species, so routine weed control is often needed.
Technical Assistance
The Morrison SWCD provides Technical Assistance to landowners interested in conservation practices.  The assistance provided includes site evaluation, survey, design and construction inspection of conservation practices.  All technical work is guided by NRCS specifications for conservation practices.  In many cases, cost share money is available for landowners to install conservation practices. State cost share will cover up to 75% of the total cost to install a practice.
The following is a list of cost sharable practices that technical assistance is offered:imagesCA40PO3T
  • Field Windbreak – a strip of permanent vegetation, usually trees, established at the edge or around the perimeter of a field.
  • Grassed Waterway – a constructed channel that is shaped or graded to required dimensions and established with suitable vegetation.
  • Waste Storage Facility – an impoundment made by constructing an embankment and/or excavating a pit, or by fabricating a manmade structure; examples include holding ponds and concrete tanks.
  • Waste Treatment Lagoon – an impoundment made by excavation for biological treatment of animal or other agricultural waste.
  • Waste Utilization – using agricultural wastes such as manure and wastewater or other organic residues to avoid potential pollution problems.
  • Wetland Development and Restoration – the construction of a wetland facility to provide the hydrological and biological benefits of a wetland.
The Morrison SWCD also belongs the West Central Technical Service Area. The purpose of this board it to provide engineering and other technical assistance for various local, state and federal conservation programs.
Temporary Cover
Temporary Cover

Temporary covers are used in a wide variety of situations related to conservation plantings. In some cases, cereal grains may be planted to stabilize sites in preparation of seeding permanent seed mixes. In other cases, perennial native grasses are planted in low diversity stands to stabilize construction areas to prepare sites for adding more species after weeds are controlled, or to allow for the colonization of native trees and shrubs, such as floodplain forest restorations where species such as switchgrass or Virginia wild rye are planted to stabilize the site. Annual species such American Slough grass can also be used to stabilize areas to be established with shallow and deep marsh plant communities.
WASCOB (Water and Sediment Control Basin)
WASCOB (Water And Sediment Control Basin)

No, it’s not a new USDA “Going Green” initiative for using corn residue.  WASCOB stands for Water And Sediment Control Basin, a structural sediment erosion control practice eligible for incentive payment under the USDA-NRCS Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP).Structural conservation and upland land treatment practices go hand-in-hand when it comes to a comprehensive conservation farm plan.  Structural practices are those that control water erosion using engineered solutions.  Structural practices are mostly used in areas with steep fields and/or concentrated flow areas that are particularly vulnerable to excessive erosion by runoff.  Some of the more common structural practices include:WASCOB (Water And Sediment Control Basin)
  • Grassed Waterways – This engineering practice involves constructing a vegetated channel that conveys runoff without eroding the underlying soil.  The size and shape of a grassed waterway is based on the amount of runoff that the waterway must carry, the slope of proposed waterway, and the underlying soil type.
  • Water and Sediment Control Basins (WASCOB) – WASCOBs are a series of small embankments across concentrated flow paths on cropland that store then slowly release runoff through an underground outlet.  As sediment laden runoff enters the basin, it is stored and sediment is settled out.  The intakes that meter the water out are typically a plastic perforated stand pipe about 4 feet high.  The embankments themselves can be designed to be farmed.
  • Terraces – Terraces are similar to WASCOB’s except that they are not built across a single water course.  A terrace embankment is built to intercept sheet flow across a field.  Spacing between terraces is designed such that the sheet flow distance is broken up into non-erosive lengths.   Sites that are suitable for terraces usually have long, continuous slopes that do not contain defined concentrated flow channels.
  • Grade Stabilization Structures – These types of structures are designed to convey runoff across a steep drop in a non-erosive manner.  Typical applications include dropping runoff flows from field level down into a ditch with a pipe or an open rock chute.  Larger applications such as controlling the advancement of a large ravine or gully up into a field usually involve long lengths of pipe to convey runoff flows down to a stable outlet.
  • Streambank Protection – Streambank protection is used to prevent soil loss caused by an erosive stream flows against a channel’s bottom and banks.  Typical applications include rock rip rap and vegetative treatment (bioengineering).  As an alternative to completely lining a bank with rock, stream barbs or “J-hooks” may use in certain circumstances.
  • To ensure a long life for structural practices, landowners are required to install land treatment measures upstream on highly erodible acres.  Also, structural practices will play an important role in ensuring a stable soil resource for those acres that may be coming out of Conservation Reserve Program contracts back to cropland status.   All these above practices and more are eligible under the EQIP program.  Contact your local NRCS office for more information.
Wetland Restoration
Wetland Restoration

Individual conservation and mitigation programs provide guidance for goals related to native vegetation establishment in wetlands. Invasive species control, particularly reed canary grass is often a concern for wetland projects and need sufficient control to allow native vegetation to thrive. Native seed-bank plays an important role in the establishment of wetland vegetation. A wide variety of wetland species are also becoming commercially available for seeding wet meadows and shallow marshes.



The Morrison SWCD prohibits discrimination in any of its programs on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, political beliefs and marital or familial status.