It seems like I get a press re­­lease at least once a week an­nouncing new funding opportunities from both public and private entities to help farmers implement conservation practices that reduce the loss of soil and nutrients from farmland. 

Last week, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship announced an expanded partnership with Ducks Unlimited to construct more than 60 water quality wetlands across Iowa in the next five years. 

That’s a remarkable achievement, considering it took nearly two decades to install 100 wetlands through Iowa’s Conservation Reserve Enhancement Pro­­gram (CREP). By advancing partnerships and utilizing the latest technology, farmers and government entities are ramping up the pace of implementing conservation projects. 

“Before we had long-term dedicated funding for water quality efforts, we could construct three to five wetlands per year,” said Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig. “Now, we are on our way toward constructing 30 per year.”

Under the state’s streamlined “batch and build” model, which recruits farmers to install edge-of-field practices as a group rather than one at a time, more saturated buffers and bioreactors are planned for construction in the next three-year period than were installed in the previous 13 years, Naig added.

“Despite supply chain disruptions, inflation and unpredictable weather, we continue to see record engagement in our state’s conservation activity,” he said. “The increased level of awareness and resources ... has led to the adoption of more conservation practices now than at any time in our state’s history.”