Iowa Farm Bureau unveils new video series, highlighting conservation practices that work

Iowa farmers are world-famous for embracing solutions that can tackle any challenge Mother Nature brings, while continuing to growing food, fiber and renewable energy for the nation.  Iowa’s increasingly tumultuous weather, varied terrain and globally-recognized fertile soils contribute to the challenge of keeping nitrates in the soil, where they naturally exist at a greater level than nearly anywhere else in the world .  But, with the guidance of the nationally-lauded Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy, or Iowa Water Quality Initiative as it’s sometimes called , Iowa farm families are collaborating with their local communities and embracing a host of innovative, science-proven solutions to reduce nitrates in the watershed. The Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) is helping farmers show Iowans how it all works by taking them on the farm, through a series of fun and engaging videos called Conservation Q&A.

The videos feature Iowa farmers and their innovative approaches to improving water quality.   “Farmers have a good story to tell, but sometimes showing how it all comes together is best.  To do that, you have to get on the farm, meet the farmer, and see how they’re making progress. The practices in the Nutrient Reduction Strategy are a proven guide, so farmers start there and work with several experts to find practices that work best on their farm; it’s quite varied, depending upon topography, soil and slope.  Safeguarding our water, doing more with less; it’s a learning process that never ends,” says IFBF President, Craig Hill.    

“For example, in some areas, cover crops are the best approach to holding nitrogen in place, so many farmers are putting their own dollars to work to put in cover crops; in fact, cover crop plantings are up 4,625% in Iowa in the last seven years,” says Iowa State University (ISU) associate professor of agronomy, Mike Castellano. 

Other areas benefit from putting in a wetland, so Iowa farmers have restored vast areas of farmland into wetlands; according to the latest information from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) & Farm Service Agency (FSA), the equivalent wetland acreage of more than 303,000 football fields have been put into place in Iowa in just the last two years . Combined, these conservation practices are bringing measurable progress in many watersheds. A 2014 report from the Iowa Soybean Association On-Farm Network Conference shows over the past 15 years, nitrate levels have trended lower in the Raccoon River by nearly 25% , despite having more acres of corn being grown in the Raccoon watershed. 

“Farmers have been implementing conservation practices on their farms for decades, investing as much as $2.2 billion in conservation improvements over the past decade, and the Nutrient Reduction Strategy has accelerated their efforts,” says Hill. “Conservation is important to farmers. It’s important to get the facts, and there’s none better than a farmer to ask, when it comes to seeing how these practices are working in Iowa today.  We’re proud to show them all, on .”

Seven Conservation Q&A videos are featured to-date, but, just as farmers continue their quest for collaborative ideas that involve cutting-edge technology and innovation, those new ideas will be added, to help tell the conservation innovation story of the Iowa farmer.