About the Farmers First Program

Nutrient recycling land application

Farm field in summer.The Farmers First nutrient recycling land application program offers free landspreading services to local farmers at no cost. All expenses such as hauling, labor, fuel, and equipment are paid for by the Metropolitan Council – there are no costs to the grower. A team of highly trained specialists are equipped with advanced machinery designed to reduce soil compaction, increase spreading accuracy, and optimize application rates to elevate fertilizer efficacy and crop yields.

Each fall after harvest, the Farmers First team works with growers through every step of the land application process assisting them with biosolids planning, safety, and community outreach. The team that manages the program has been trained and certified by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA). Their key roles include safely transporting the compost to the site location, accurately spreading biosolids onto the desired fields, and acting as centralized communication specialists between the farmers and the community during the entire process.

The Farmers First program follows industry quality standards and best management practices that were developed and are monitored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Control Agency (EPA) and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. Adhering to their guidance and standards helps ensure that our processes, methods, and products are of the safest and highest quality for public health and the environment.

Empire Wastewater Treatment Plant

Aerial view of Empire Wastewater Treatment Plant

Biosolids produced at the plant

Rows of biosolids


Trucks driving






The Metropolitan Council’s Farmers First land application program provides many benefits for the region, local townships, farmers, and the environment:

  • Recycling biosolids keeps wastewater rates competitive.
  • Biosolids are a cost-effective fertilizer alternative for farmers.
  • Land application of biosolids reduces waste to landfills.
  • Biosolids produce biogas that can be converted into electricity.
  • Biosolids are a safe and natural way to promote healthy soils and water retention.


The Farmers First team is committed to providing a high level of customer service to manage the following potential impacts that may occur during the land application process:

  • Dust from hauling
  • Equipment noise
  • Traffic congestion
  • Road wear and tear
  • Odor

Program resources

Land Application Program 819 kB

Long-Term Stewards Together 446 kB

PFAS Fact Sheet 811 kB

Empire Wastewater Treatment Plant 2.2 MB

Become an MCES partner

MCES is accepting new landowner partners for spring and fall application seasons. Reach out to Colton Janes:
[email protected]