Iowa Farm*A*Syst is a farmstead assessment system developed to assist rural residents in protecting their water resources, particularly their drinking water. Individuals can tailor the Iowa Farm*A*Syst program to meet their needs by choosing specific topics that fit their farmstead or acreage.

The Iowa Farm*A*Syst program is based on a series of 12 publications:
  • Assessing Your Farmstead Characteristics (EDC 264)
  • Assessing Your Water Well Condition & Maintenance (EDC 265)
  • Assessing Your Household Wastewater Management (EDC 266)
  • Assessing Your Open Feedlot Manure Management (EDC 267)
  • Assessing Your Confinement Livestock Manure Management (EDC 268)
  • Assessing Your Milking Center Wastewater Management (EDC 269)
  • Assessing Your Dead Animal Management (EDC 270)
  • Assessing Your Pesticide Storage & Management (EDC 271)
  • Assessing Your Fertilizer Storage & Management (EDC 272)
  • Assessing Your Petroleum Storage & Management (EDC 273)
  • Assessing Your Hazardous Materials Storage & Management (EDC 274)
  • Assessing Your Emergency Response Planning for Manure Spills (EDC 328)
Each publication gives you a brief background on the subject and an assessment worksheet to evaluate on farm practices affecting water quality. Also included are references to Iowa environmental laws and contact information for technical advice.

Why should I use the Iowa Farm*A*Syst materials?

Seventy-five percent of Iowans get their drinking water from groundwater sources. These sources include private wells, in addition to municipal wells and rural water sources. If your drinking water comes from a private well, you have good reason to be concerned about the quality of your drinking water. A 1990 statewide survey of rural well water found that 45 percent of private wells are contaminated with coliform bacteria, 18 percent contain unsafe levels of nitrate, and 14 percent contain pesticides. The Iowa Farm*A*Syst publications help you to determine what environmental risks could threaten your family's health and financial security and suggest the resources to help make necessary changes.
The publications are designed to give the reader some background on the subject matter so they can complete a short assessment of their current practices. The materials are written so that farmers and acreage owners who value confidentiality can use the materials without having to seek outside advice.

How do I start assessing my farmstead?

The twelve Iowa Farm*A*Syst publications are each designed to be stand-alone publications. However, the first step to assessing your farmstead should be to draw a map of the area, labeling any potential sources of contamination. Iowa Farm*A*Syst Assessing Your Farmstead Characteristics can help you get started. Every farmstead is unique. You need to evaluate your farmstead's site characteristics to determine the potential for groundwater and surface water contamination. You cannot change the features of your farmstead, but once you are aware of them you can modify your activities to minimize the potential for groundwater contamination. After you have mapped your farmstead, consider what management decisions may be affecting the quality of your water resources. This process will help you to prioritize which of the other Iowa Farm*A*Syst assessments you may want to complete.

For more information, contact Rick Robinson, Iowa Farm Bureau - Environmental Policy Advisor, at (515) 225-5432.

Research/Commodity Contact

Rick Robinson
Environmental Policy Advisor