Iowa farmers have made tremendous strides to conserve soil and improve water quality in recent years. And with the groundbreaking Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy in place, they are stepping up their efforts to learn more about which conservation practices will be most effective for the environment while fitting with their operations.

A good example of those efforts is sprouting this spring on a 20-acre field in Sioux County. Farmers Co-op Society (FCS), working with local farmers, the Sioux County Farm Bureau and others, is setting up several demonstration plots designed to show how different conservation practices will work in real world farming conditions of northwest Iowa.

"The idea is to have something to show for all types of farms," said Dave Van Oort, an agronomist with the Sioux Center-based FCS. "It’s important to demonstrate things that farmers can relate to, whether they are all crops or raise crops and livestock."

In Sioux County, the state’s leader in livestock production,...