Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig announced that a successful Water Quality Initiative (WQI) project in Lee, Henry, Van Buren, Des Moines, and Jefferson Counties is accelerating toward a new phase with an added focus on edge-of-field conservation practices.

Since the Lower Skunk River and Big Sugar Creek Partnership started in 2014, more than 54,000 acres of cover crops have been seeded in the project area and nearly 238,000 feet of terraces have been built. The next stage of this project will continue to emphasize the use of these conservation practices. However, the project will also now include an added focus on the installation of edge-of-field practices such as saturated buffers and bioreactors as well as nutrient reducing grade stabilization structures. These proven practices help to keep nutrients from entering our waterways.

“Accelerating our water quality progress requires us to continually do more, and that’s exactly what the next phase of this southeast Iowa water quality project is all about – more farmers and landowners, more partners, more practices, more technical and financial resources, and more Iowa acres and waterways positively impacted,” said Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig. “We make participating easy and accessible, so if you are a farmer or landowner in this area, we invite you to help us build upon our growing water quality momentum.”

Through the WQI, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship is investing approximately $245,736 in the next phase of this project. Partners on the project include the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, Center for Rural Affairs, Mount Hamill Elevator, Chem Gro, Beck’s Seeds, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, Iowa Pork Producers Association, Land Improvement Contractors of America (LICA), The Nature Conservancy, Pathfinders Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D), Practical Farmers of Iowa, Liquid Gro, Iowa Corn Growers Association, Henry County Soil and Water Conservation District, Jefferson County Soil and Water Conservation District, Lee County Soil and Water Conservation District, Des Moines County Soil and Water Conservation District and Van Buren County Soil and Water Conservation District. 

About the Water Quality Initiative

The Iowa Water Quality Initiative was established in 2013 to help implement the Nutrient Reduction Strategy, which is a science and technology-based approach to protecting and improving our water quality. The strategy brings together both point sources, such as municipal wastewater treatment plants and industrial facilities, and nonpoint sources, including farm fields and urban stormwater runoff, to address these issues. The Initiative seeks to harness the collective ability of both private and public resources and organizations to deliver a clear and consistent message to stakeholders to reduce nutrient loss and improve water quality.