The U.S. Department of Agri­culture (USDA) and its conservation partners will direct $3.2 million towards two new conservation projects in eastern Iowa to improve water quality and enhance soil health, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced. The projects will help communities and farmers support wildlife habitat and protect agricultural viability.

Iowa’s projects are two of 88 across the country that will receive $225 million in federal funding as part of the USDA’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). The selected Iowa projects include:

• Fox River Water Quality Project. Led by the Davis County Soil and Water Conservation Dis­trict in southeast Iowa, this project will help producers improve water quality through conservation practices like installing grade stabilization structures, water and sediment control basins, tile outlet terraces and cover crops.

• Innovative Conservation Agri­culture. Led by the Allamakee Soil and Water Conservation District in northeast Iowa, this project will address water quality and soil health concerns by supporting implementation of cover crops and no-till in conjunction with manure application. The project will also focus on the conversion of marginal cropland to pasture and the addition of a small grain crop to a corn-soybean system.