Watershed Projects

Watershed Projects The following watershed projects are currently in the works and will implement and demonstrate the effectiveness and adaptability of a host of conservation practices including, but not limited to: cover crops, nutrient management, wetlands, terraces, bioreactors, buffer strips, no-till, strip-till, nitrogen inhibitors, extended rotations, conservation cover, drainage water management and manure management.

The following watershed projects are currently in the works and will implement and demonstrate the effectiveness and adaptability of a host of conservation practices including, but not limited to: cover crops, nutrient management, wetlands, terraces, bioreactors, buffer strips, no-till, strip-till, nitrogen inhibitors, extended rotations, conservation cover, drainage water management and manure management.

The projects below will be done in conjunction with the Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCD) and are within the large priority watersheds prioritized by the Iowa Water Resources Coordinating Council (WRCC), which include the Floyd, Boone, South Skunk, Skunk, Middle Cedar, and Turkey.

Watershed Projects:

Iowa Soybean Association Logo

Advancing Nutrient Reduction in the Rock Creek Watershed

Grant award: $275,190 Total project: $387,190 
Project leaders: Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) 
Partners: Mitchell Soil and Water Conservation District, Mitchell County Conservation Board, and Iowa Agricultural Water Alliance

Project details: This project will enhance existing collaborative efforts to improve water quality and reduce nutrient loss in the Rock Creek Watershed in the Upper Cedar River Watershed.  Working from a watershed plan developed by farmers and stakeholders, the effort will deliver installation assistance for edge-of-field practices, specifically bioreactors and saturated buffers. Once complete, the watershed will have the largest concentration of these practices in Iowa.   This effort will serve as a pilot site for new and innovative ways to expand implementation of these practices in other areas of the state.

Don't Farm Naked Logo

Don’t Farm Naked: Integration of Ruminant Livestock and Cover Crops to Meet Iowa’s Nutrient Reduction Goals

Grant award: $282,680 Total project: $394,680 
Project leaders: Practical Farmers of Iowa (PFI) 
Partners: Iowa State University Extension, Iowa Beef Center, Iowa Cattleman’s Association, Iowa Learning Farms, and USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service 

Project details: PFI will work with livestock producers in the Floyd, North Raccoon, and Turkey River Watersheds to demonstrate the implementation and value of incorporating cover crops into row crop production in operations with ruminant livestock.  Cover crops have a significant impact on reducing both nitrogen and phosphorus losses while also providing a high-quality, low-cost livestock feed. Planting cover crops, then grazing or harvesting them is a practical way to effectively reduce nutrient pollution, plus provide economic benefits to cattle owners. This presents an opportunity for rapid expansion of this practice across this particular type of farming system.  This project will specifically target these operations to deliver on-farm and practical information through multiple outreach methods to spread knowledge and ultimately adoption of the practice.  

Conservation Technology Information Center

Driving Cover Crop Adoption through Education and Technical Assistance and Showing Environmental Benefits

Grant award: $1,007,916 Total project: $2,225,166 
Project leaders: Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC) 
Partners: Archer Daniels Midland, DuPont Pioneer, LaCrosse Seed, Practical Farmers of Iowa, and Unilever 

Project details:  CTIC will lead this effort to integrate cover crops into the operation of farmers recognized as leaders by their production methods for raising corn and soybeans.  These farmers participate in the “Sustainable Soy” program led by Unilever and Archer Daniels Midland.  Farmers will be able to integrate cover crops onto their farms as part of continuous improvement of their production practices.  This project will leverage investments of farmers and partners to provide technical and financial assistance to build a better understanding of this practice to continue the trend of expanding use of cover crops in Iowa. 

Soil and Water Conservation Society

Optimized Water Quality Wetlands Integrated with In-Field Nutrient Management Practices

Grant award: $1,500,000
Total project: $2,655,700
Project leaders: Soil and Water Conservation Society (SWCS) 
Partners: Agribusiness Association of Iowa and Iowa State University
 
Project details:  Wetlands targeted for nutrient removal have a significant impact on improving water quality in Iowa.  This project will deliver new and innovative methods for delivering this technology in the Cedar River Watershed.  SWCS is partnering with the Agribusiness Association of Iowa to coordinate efforts with CCAs and ag retailers working with farmers to deliver in-field management practices in the contributing watersheds.  Iowa State University will partner on the monitoring and optimization of wetlands for water quality improvement.  This approach will help inform delivery and expansion of wetlands in other areas of the state.

Benton Soil and Water Conservation District

Benton/Tama Nutrient Reduction Demonstration Project

Grant award: $468,000
Total project: $747,000
Project leaders: Benton SWCD
Partners : Tama SWCD, DuPont Pioneer, Iowa State University Extension, Benton County Extension Service, Iowa Soybean Association, Practical Farmers of Iowa, Iowa Learning Farms, Iowa Farm Bureau , USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service

Project details
: This project will partner with multiple organizations to demonstrate a host of nutrient reduction practices on cropland devoted to seed corn production.  Seed corn acres have largely been neglected in traditional conservation practice implementation.  Through the use of conservation practice demonstrations, field trials, and field days the project intends to prove the adaptability of these practices and how they can be translated across seed corn production industry wide.

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Deep Creek Water Quality Initiative Project

Grant award: $315,000
Total project: $522,300
Project leaders: Plymouth SWCD
Partners : USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), ISU Extension and Outreach, Iowa Farm Bureau , Plymouth County Pheasants Forever, Plymouth County Pork Producers, Le Mars Agri-Center, Remsen Farmers Coop, Farmers Coop, Iowa Corn Growers, Iowa Soybean Association

Project details
: Through partnerships with both public and private agricultural entities, the project intends to reach an expanded audience.  Like much of northwestern Iowa, this area contains a large amount of livestock production.  Practices demonstrated with this project will have a special emphasis on those that are most relevant to livestock producers.

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West Branch of the Floyd River Water Quality Initiative

Grant award: $360,000
Total project: $608,000
Project leaders: Plymouth SWCD
Partners : Farmers Coop Society, Dordt College Agriculture Stewardship Center, Iowa State University Extension, Iowa Pork Producers Association, Iowa Farm Bureau , USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service

Project details
: The West Branch of the Floyd River Water Quality Initiative will showcase nutrient reduction practices with a special emphasis upon accelerating the adoption across a broad cross-section of the agricultural community. The project engages both public and private agricultural entities to foster adoption of a variety of conservation practices. This watershed boasts the largest concentration of livestock production in the state. The practices outlined will help address livestock related concerns by comparing conventional practices to implemented conservation practices to increase awareness and foster adoption.

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Demonstration watersheds Bluegrass & Crabapple – East Nishnabotna Watershed Project

Grant award: $325,000
Total project: $1.2 million
Project leaders: Audubon SWCD
Partners: Iowa DNR, Agriland FS, Aspinwall Co-op, West Central Co-op, Crop Production Service, Brinkman Ag Solution, DC AG, C3 Technologies, Cole Christensen Consulting, City of Audubon, Iowa Rural Water Association

Project details
: The Audubon Soil and Water Conservation District will expand on existing partnerships and foster a peer-to-peer network to help promote and spread adoption of nutrient reduction practices in the Bluegrass and Crabapple watersheds.  An advisory group made up of partners and farmers has helped develop this project and help shape watershed-wide demonstrations.

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Boone River Watershed Nutrient Management Initiative

Grant award: $1,009,803
Total project: $1,853,103
Project leaders: Wright SWCD
Partners : The Nature Conservancy, Iowa Soybean Association, Kossuth SWCD, Humboldt SWCD, USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service, Agriculture’s Clean Water Alliance, Hagie Manufacturing, The Conservation Fund, North Central Cooperative, Iowa State University Extension

Project details
: The Wright Soil and Water Conservation District has assembled a broad group of partners to help implement a demonstration project in the designated watersheds.  Public and private groups are committed to creating at project that demonstrates the practices and approaches outlined in the Nutrient Reduction Strategy.  The foundation of the project will be to develop and promote “Farmer Champions” as advocates of implementing conservation practices by providing an example for others to follow.

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Cedar Creek Partnership Project

Grant award: $288,000
Total project: $837,650
Project leaders : Wapello SWCD
Partners : Keokuk SWCD, Jefferson SWCD, Pathfinders RC&D, ISU Extension and Outreach, Golden Furrow Fertilizer

Project details
: The Cedar Creek Partnership Project looks to build on past efforts in the area to help spread adoption of practices into watersheds that haven’t had similar focus levels in the past.  The Cedar Creek project has developed multiple partnerships to help deliver a clear, consistent message and leverage resources to reach a broader audience.

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Central Turkey River Nutrient Reduction Demonstration Project

Grant award: $498,000
Total project: $5,529,924
Project leaders: Winneshiek SWCD
Partners : Turkey River Watershed Management Authority

Project details
: The Winneshiek SWCD takes a grassroots, producer to producer interactive approach to marketing targeted watershed projects that will help demonstrate the ability of practices to improve water quality while maintaining productivity.  With Northeast Iowa Community College as a centralized location in the project area, the college will serve as a hub to bring together an education and community wide focus to improving water quality.

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Demonstration of Targeted Nutrient Reduction Systems for Clayton County

Grant award: $207,000
Total project: $333,000
Project leaders: Clayton SWCD

Project details: The Clayton SWCD will demonstrate a combined approach of multiple practices within the targeted watersheds through peer to peer landowner interaction to help spread information and ultimately adoption.  This basis of understanding how land use decisions affect the various pathways of nutrient loss will help motivate farmers throughout the area to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus losses from their farms.

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Lower Skunk Water Quality and Soil Health Initiative

Grant award: $368,450
Total project: $588,950
Project leaders : Henry SWCD
Partners : Jefferson SWCD, Lee SWCD, Van Buren SWCD, Pathfinders RC&D, USDA NRCS, Iowa Soybean Association, Chem Gro Inc.

Project details
: Henry SWCD along with Jefferson, Van Buren and Lee SWCDs, will showcase the importance of nutrient reduction practices as system, pairing the best in-field management with edge of field practices.  A complementary theme of improving soil health will be a component of this project to help demonstrate the effectiveness of these practices to foster long-term acceptance.

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Miller Creek Water Quality Improvement Project

Grant award: $499,530
Total project: $751,501
Project leaders: Black Hawk SWCD
Partners : Iowa Soybean Association, BMC Aggregates, Tama SWCD, Black Hawk County,
USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service

Project details
: The Miller Creek Water Quality Improvement Project addresses the challenge of improving water quality by creating a demonstration watershed so producers within and around the region can learn about the installation and effectiveness of conservation practices to help foster adoption on their farms.  The project seeks to broaden awareness of nutrient loading issues and solutions, engage private sector partners, foster adoption of in-field, edge-of-field, and off-field practices, and to reduce nutrient loss in the watershed.

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Demonstration watersheds Van Zante Creek Water Quality Improvement Project

Grant award: $639,839
Total project: $1,534,839
Project leaders: Marion SWCD
Partners : Jasper SWCD, Pathfinders RC&D, Iowa Soybean Association, USDA Farm Service Agency, USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service

Project details
: The Van Zante Creek Water Quality Improvement Project is coordinating with stakeholders including: farmers, landowners, agricultural service providers, agronomists, and contractors to provide a collaborative effort to reduce nutrient loss.  Using the Nutrient Reduction Strategy, the project will assess a baseline for producers and develop adaptive steps to achieving reductions in nitrogen and phosphorus loads to the stream on a farm by farm basis.

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Walnut Creek Watershed Project – Subwatershed of the Nishnatbotna River WQI

Grant award: $480,000
Total project: $1,082,880
Project leaders: Montgomery SWCD
Partners: United Farmers Mercantile Coop, Green Cover Seed, Pheasants Forever, E. Pottawattamie SWCD, ISU Extension and Outreach, USDA NRCS,

Project details
: The Walnut Creek Watershed Project will build a network of producers, local agribusiness representatives, and agencies to promote and demonstrate conservation practices detailed in the Nutrient Reduction Strategy.  These partnerships will ensure the best information is used to help present a regional focus on management and implementation of these practices.

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Demonstration watersheds West Fork Crooked Creek Water Quality and Soil Health Initiative

Grant award: $484,250
Total project: $866,800
Project leaders: Washington SWCD
Partners: Keokuk SWCD, USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service, Iowa State University Extension

Project details: The West Fork Crooked Creek Water Quality and Soil Health Initiative will demonstrate and accelerate the adoption of conservation practices that have been proven to be most effective in reducing nitrate-N and phosphorus in streams.  This project will build upon work completed in the one portion of the designated watersheds and demonstrate the effectiveness and adaptability throughout the larger project area.

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Elk Run Watershed Water Quality Initiative Project – Sac, Carroll and Calhoun Counties

Grant award : $354,000 
Total project: 
$713,000  Project leader : Agriculture’s Clean Water Alliance (ACWA) 
Partners : Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, Iowa Soybean Association, Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Pork Producers Association, Iowa Cattlemen’s Association, Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance, Crop Production Services, Farmers Cooperative Company, West Central Cooperative, Iowa State University Extension, USDA-Natural Resource Conservation Service, Sac Soil and Water Conservation District, Carroll Soil and Water Conservation District, Calhoun Soil and Water Conservation District, Practical Farmers of Iowa. 

Project details
: ACWA and partners are leading a demonstration and implementation project in the Elk Run watershed to target and showcase both in-field and edge-of-field practices that reduce nutrient loss to surface waters. The project will establish a one-on-one dialogue with farmers and landowners in the watershed to discuss opportunities to incorporate and build on conservation measures on their farms.  Activities will include outreach events to highlight various technologies that significantly reduce loss of nutrients while maintaining the productive capability of cropland in the watershed.

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Headwaters North Raccoon River – Buena Vista and Pocahontas Counties

Grant award:  $501,810 
Total project: $1,237,830 
Project leaders: Buena Vista & Pocahontas Soil & Water Conservation Districts 
Partners: Ag Partners Cooperative, Farm Nutrients, First Cooperative, Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, Iowa Pork Producers Association, Iowa Soybean Association, Iowa State University Extension, Antares Group Incorporated, City of Storm Lake, USDA-Agricultural Research Service, USDA-Natural Resource Conservation Service 

Project details
: The Headwaters North Raccoon River project will work side-by-side with local farmers and partners to promote the integration of management and other practices to decrease the loss of nutrients to surface waters.  A comprehensive list of key trusted agricultural advisors and retailers have been assembled to help deliver and promote nutrient stewardship practices in the watersheds.

Prairie Rivers of Iowa Logo

Leading a New Collaborative Approach to Improving Water Quality in the Squaw Creek Watershed – Story, Boone and Hamilton Counties

Grant award: $609,164 
Total project
: $930,788 
Project leaders: Prairie Rivers of Iowa Resource Conservation & Development (RC&D) 
Partners: Squaw Creek Watershed Management Authority (WMA), Story County Board of Supervisors, Boone County Board of Supervisors, Story Soil and Water Conservation District, Boone Soil and Water Conservation District, Hamilton Soil and Water Conservation District, City of Ames, Story County Conservation Board, Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Soybean Association, Heartland Cooperative, Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance, Technical Service Provider Network, Emmons & Oliver, Iowa State University Bioeconomy Institute, DuPont Pioneer 

Project details: The Prairie Rivers of Iowa RC&D, in cooperation with the Squaw Creek Watershed Management Authority, is leading this effort in the Squaw Creek Watershed.  This project will take a collaborative approach involving multiple stakeholders to address runoff in the watershed through practice implementation, outreach/education events, and assessment.  The Squaw Creek WMA established a strategic plan in 2014 to help guide and target implementation efforts within the watershed.  Included in the plan was an assessment of the watershed that will help assess and target locations for best management practices to protect and improve water quality.