Drought Conditions and Water Conservation

The following is a newsletter from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources about the drought condition throughout Minnesota in 2021.

Drought is a naturally occurring aspect of Minnesota’s climate. In 2021 we have seen abnormally dry conditions to moderate drought conditions since early spring in many parts of the state. If dry conditions persist in specific areas of the state, the DNR might need to begin discussing water use restrictions with surface water appropriators in these counties. As the summer heats up, we realize that many of you also have electrical restrictions during peak load times.

 In the meantime, we are asking you to be extra vigilant with your water efficiency and to be observant of your neighbors’ drinking water supplies. Over 500 irrigators voluntarily completed the 2020 Water Conservation Report. These are the top water conservation measures being implemented by your fellow irrigators:


•       Leak detection and repair

•       Off-peak irrigating

•       Test sprinkler application rates and uniformity

•       Install Variable Frequency Drive pumps

Moisture Monitoring

•       Regular scouting crops for moisture

•       Rain gauges installed -3 or more per field

•       Soil testing for water holding capacity

Irrigation Scheduling

•       Checkbook Method

•       Crop-based irrigation scheduling method

•       Plant-based

Equipment Efficiency

•       47% report using center pivots – 41% use low pressure center pivots

•       47% can shut off water to unused areas, and 41% have end-gun management

•       42% have new or better nozzles and 34% have low volume/pressure nozzles

•       26% have a variable rate distribution system installed with speed control, zone control, or both

Plant and Soil Management to Save Water

•       Crop rotation – using some crops with lower water needs

•       Use drought tolerant/ lower water-use seed

•       Use a soil test to determine fertilizer needs

•       Regularly scout crops, follow Integrated Pest Management and Best Management Practices

•       Regularly work to improve soil health – cover crops, improve organic matter

The full Irrigation Water Conservation Report will be available later this summer on our Water Conservation webpage. The University of Minnesota has excellent crop irrigation information.

Also, please alert your local DNR hydrologists to any water supply concerns or issues during the summer.

Sign up to receive GovDelivery updates about drought in Minnesota, drought preparations and response, and important ways to conserve water.

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