Earth Day is a good time for all of us to reflect on the condition of our natural resources, what we’re doing to protect them, the progress we’re making, and how we can do even more to take on the challenge of protecting them in the future.
As Iowa farmers take on the challenge of improving water quality through the state’s four-year-old Clean Water Initiative
A new interactive tool developed by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), which is designed to track long-term trends in surface water quality, shows a trend of steady to declining levels of nitrate and phosphorus in most of Iowa’s monitored rivers and streams during the decade ending in 2012.
After spending two years in court and millions of dollars of ratepayer money in legal fees, the Des Moines Water Works (DMWW) appears to have accomplished very little in its lawsuit against drainage districts in three northwest Iowa counties.
Farm Bureau leaders were pleased that a federal court dismissed a lawsuit filed by the Des Moines Water Works (DMWW) against drainage districts in Buena Vista, Calhoun and Sac counties and said last week that the court’s ruling will not diminish Iowa farmers’ commitment to improving water quality and saving soil.
Bob Lynch never liked moldboard plowing. When the Gilmore City-area farmer started implementing more conservation tillage on his family’s land more than 20 years ago, however, his father wasn’t comfortable with leaving “trash” on top.
Luke Broulik and Tim Keegan are third-generation conservationist farmers on the Broulick farm in Linn County.
A southeast Iowa farm family harvested record yields in 2016 after managing cropland soils with no-till and cover crops.
As Iowa’s innovative water quality initiative nears its fourth anniversary this spring, state agricultural and environmental officials are outlining ways that the practices in the strategy can be scaled up to reach more farmers and cover more acres across the state.
Dozens of projects coordinated by the Iowa Nutrient Research Center are helping farmers understand how they can improve water quality by reducing phosphorus and nitrogen losses from their farms.
Iowa farmers have been experimenting with growing cover crops on their farms
Iowa cover crop acres grew by approximately 32 percent to 623,700 acres, according to the newly-released Iowa Learning Farms 2016 Field Day Evaluation Report.
Taking on the challenge of improving water quality and reducing soil erosion is nothing new for Randy and Carol Miller
When heavy rains propelled flood waters as high as a car’s door handles in parts of Storm Lake a few years ago, James Patrick, city manager, knew something had to be done.
Cover crops, buffer strips, and wetlands might not look impressive, but they are producing some amazing results!
Cleaner water starts with science and goals, but ultimately it takes teams of individuals, organizations, businesses and government entities committed to getting the job done in communities around the state. That’s where Iowa’s Water Quality Initiative is truly excelling.
Iowa farmers are significantly increasing the use of conservation practices geared toward achieving the goals of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy, according to a new Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll released last week.
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey last week announced the State Soil Conservation Committee Research and Demonstration Fund has assistance available for research, education or demonstration projects focused on reducing non-point source pollution.
For Tama County Farm Bureau member John Weber, conservation is at the heart of his livestock and grain farm.
Livestock farmers are discovering that using cover crops not only boosts soil nutrient levels, but also cuts input costs because the cover crops can be used as a feed replacement for grazing cattle.
A wide-ranging consortium of Iowa farm organizations, state agencies, agribusiness companies and Iowa State University (ISU) last week launched a ground-breaking strategy to boost Iowa’s monarch butterfly population.
The number of Iowa cover crop acres grew by approximately 32 percent to 623,700 acres in 2016, despite low commodity prices and tight margins
The Iowa Monarch Conservation Consortium has released a statewide strategy to support monarch butterfly recovery in Iowa and North America.
Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds and Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey are encouraging Iowans to nominate farmers who have taken on the challenge of improving water quality and saving soil for the Iowa Farm Environmental Leader Award.
Over the years I’ve had the pleasure of visiting with several of Iowa’s conservation pioneers, and I’ve often heard a common story.
The Conservation Farmer of the Year Award highlights the continuous conservation improvements made by Iowa farmers, but focuses on one statewide winner. Iowans have until May 1 to nominate a deserving farmer. Here's how.
As more Iowa farmers step up to take on the challenge of improving water quality, state and academic leaders last week outlined plans to scale up practices and build momentum for the Iowa Water Quality Initiative.
The Iowa Pork Producers Association (IPPA) presented its 2016 Iowa Environmental Steward Award to Black Hawk County Farm Bureau members Ben and Anna Bader of Jesup.
I bumped into my friend, Al Schafbuch, at a conference last week.
Cereal rye cover crops added to a corn-soybean rotation have little to no negative effect on yield and actually increased soybean yields in seven site-years and corn yield in two-sites years
The second annual Iowa Soil Health Conference is set for Feb. 16 and 17 in Ames.
The Soil-Health Partnership (SHP) is in the process of setting dates and locations for field days that will provide information about long-term studies the organization that began in 2016.
The Iowa Pork Producers Association (IPPA) is partnering with the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) to offer additional cost-share dollars to pig farmers installing new nutrient loss reduction technologies.
Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey last week told lawmakers in a report that farmers are continuing to expand their efforts to improve water quality.
Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) members are pleased that the Iowa Supreme Court is upholding a century of precedent and established Iowa law by rejecting those aspects of the Des Moines Water Works’ lawsuit against drainage districts in Sac, Calhoun and Buena Vista counties, which were referred to the court.
Nominations are now being sought to find the 2017 Iowa Conservation Farmer of the Year, a prestigious honor with a substantial prize; the winner receives use of a new John Deere 6E utility tractor for a year.
Members of Iowa’s largest grassroots farm organization plan to focus their 2017 legislative lobbying strength on issues that stand to impact all Iowans, including advancing water quality, coupling with Section 179, and protecting property taxpayers.
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
There’s a new set of discussion topics these days at farm meetings around Iowa.
Some assembly required. Those three words strike fear in the hearts of parents as Christmas approaches...
Members of the state’s largest grassroots farm organization gathered in Des Moines, 1,000 strong, to celebrate the many ways agriculture helps Iowans “Believe, Lead and Achieve” a path of success in rural Iowa.
As we have witnessed this year more than any other, life is about change. Whether change is brought about with much hand-wringing or embraced as a bold, new challenge, change can only be successful if it walks arm-in-arm with its old friend: Patience.
There’s plenty of evidence from many different sources piling up these days that shows Iowa farmers are serious about taking on the challenge of improving the state’s water quality.
Spring, of course, is the traditional planting season in Iowa. Each year, farmers hustle to get their seeds of corn, soybeans and other crops sown in the state’s deep, rich soil.
Iowa farmers, as we’ve chronicled in the Spokesman, are taking on the challenge of improving the state’s water quality.
The Green family in northeast Iowa honored as conservation farmers of the year.
Depressed corn and soybean prices aren’t deterring Iowa farmers from planting cover crops this fall, says Sarah Carlson, Midwest cover crop director for Practical Farmers of Iowa (PFI).
Smart people from all over the world will gather in central Iowa this week during the World Food Prize celebration to discuss the best ways to feed the world’s growing population, while protecting the environment.
Iowa’s three-year-old Water Quality Initiative is off to a strong and very promising start. How do we know that? Simple: it’s the report card.
These days the excitement of the start of the 2016 Iowa harvest is trending big all over social media.
Iowa grocery shoppers place trust in Iowa farmers, with 66 percent placing a great deal of trust in them, according to the latest Iowa Farm Bureau Food and Farm Index® conducted in late summer.
Iowa farmers and communities, with the help of government agencies, ag organizations and Iowa State University (ISU), continue to make steady and measurable progress on reaching the goals of Iowa’s water quality initiative, officially called the Nutrient Reduction Strategy (NRS).
There are many ways to measure the success of Black Hawk Lake restoration efforts, but perhaps the most visible occurred this summer when the 922-acre lake was filled with boatloads of South Dakotans casting for walleye.
As farmers look to improve water quality in the state, partnerships and education are key, farmers and other leaders said last week at a field day in Rembrandt.
Two Castalia family farmers, known just as much for their strong conservation ethic as well as their big maple syrup festival, are winners of the 2016 Iowa Conservation Farmer of the Year award.
Dale and Karen Green’s Winneshiek County farm is all about sustainability.
Are you seeing green in a newly harvested cornfield? Expect to see more cover crops in fields this fall.
Sustainability may be a buzz word today, but it was alive and well last week at the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Iowa Farm Bureau’s Century and Heritage Farm Awards at the Iowa State Fair.
Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad said he’s optimistic that Iowa will develop a long-term, sustainable water quality funding program within the next few years to supplement farmers’ own efforts to improve water quality and reduce soil loss.
Want a positive jolt of optimism about how Iowa farmers are taking on the challenge of improving water quality and reducing soil loss?
Twenty members of the Illinois Farm Bureau who visited Iowa this week on a nutrient issues tour left the state with a greater appreciation for Iowa’s collaborative approach to water quality issues after meeting with stakeholders across the state.
The Governor, Secretary of Agriculture, Department of Natural Resources director, and mayor of Cedar Rapids walk into a room… It’s no joke. As 15 Illinois farmers learned last week, Iowa is pursuing water quality solutions in ways that may seem laughable in other places.
Farm Bureau members from Illinois, who traveled west to Iowa last week to assess their neighboring state’s work in water quality, came away thoroughly impressed.
Sometimes it’s instructive to get a neighbor’s point of view when trying to gauge progress on a challenging project, such as Iowa’s ongoing efforts to improve water quality.
Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad will lead Iowa officials in recognizing more than 90 farmers who have earned Iowa Farm Environmental Leader Awards for 2016.
Polk County farmer Kurt Lehman, collaborating with others in the central Iowa research and conservation community, made a big investment in water quality last week.
I’ve been around Iowa agriculture a long time, but last week was a first for me: I visited a field where a farmer was having a saturated buffer and a bioreactor installed side-by-side. It was pretty cool to see all of that water quality improvement action in one spot. But it might not be the last time dual installation happens around the state, given the way that farmers all over Iowa are tackling the challenge of improving water quality.
Farm Bureau Park at the Iowa State Fair will showcase farmers' efforts to protect water quality.
Did you know one shovel full of soil contains more living things than people on planet Earth? More than 7 billion!
Legislators got a closer look recently at what farmers are doing to protect water quality in northern Iowa.
Looking for an opportunity to learn more about new conservation opportunities for your farm? Check out one of the 35-plus conservation field days listed on ConservationCountsIowa.com!
Community joins together to improve water quality at Black Hawk Lake.
A new study by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) shows that collaborative conservation and water quality efforts by farmers, ag retailers and government agencies can reduce nitrogen losses to rivers and streams by as much as 34 percent in Iowa and other states in the Mississippi River Basin.
The leaders of the Iowa Nutrient Research and Education Council (INREC) strongly believe that collaboration by a wide range of private and public groups is the key to helping the state’s farmers achieve conservation and water quality goals.
Collaborations are sprouting up all across Iowa these days as farmers and others team up to reduce nutrient loss and improve the state’s water quality.
Thanks to collaboration and guidance from experts at Iowa State University, Iowa's farmers have been restoring wetlands, nature's nitrate filters, for generations. See how it's making a difference for water quality.
Today, Iowa Farm Bureau relaunched ConservationCountsIowa.com with updated content for farmers and non-farmers alike to see the progress being made through the Nutrient Reduction Strategy, Iowa’s collaborative, research-based strategy for water quality improvement.
Doug Adams heard the coffee-shop talk last spring when a rye cover crop in one of his fields grew seemingly out of control, reaching shoulder-high in a field due to be planted to soybeans.
The delivery of nitrates in rivers and streams in the Raccoon River watershed stayed steady — or actually decreased in some areas — despite an increase in corn acreage during the 15-year period from 1999 to 2014, according to a new study published in late May by the University of Iowa (UI).
Mark Mueller talks easily about all of the agronomic benefits he’s noticed since he started planting cover crops on his Bremer County farm — excellent weed control, a new revenue opportunity and, hopefully in few years, improved crop yields.
County Farm Bureaus all over Iowa are stepping up in their local communities this year to lead the effort to improve water quality, limit nutrient loss and reduce soil erosion.
See how the Iowa Nutrient Research and Education Council is bringing together partners to provide farmers with conservation expertise and measure progress.
The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) last week opened another sign-up period for cost share funds to help farmers install conservation and water quality improvement practices.
Iowa State University last week announced it is beginning a state-funded project in partnership with the Iowa Nutrient Research and Education Council (INREC) to explore how to best measure Iowa farmers’ progress in reducing nutrients moving from fields into rivers and streams.
Research at Iowa State University (ISU) suggests that an additional period of cover crop growth prior to planting soybeans results in high cover crop biomass production, nitrogen retention and has no negative effect on yields.
Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) members applaud the House proposal to prioritize existing funds towards sustainable water quality and soil conservation practices, which protect Iowa’s fertile fields and watersheds.
Call him the farmer who embraced conservation when conservation wasn’t cool. Orlando “Olie” Leimer knew there had to be a better way when he saw dust storms blacken the Iowa sky decades ago.
More than $47 million in public and private investments will help farmers in five key Iowa watersheds quickly scale up conservation practices that improve water quality beginning this year.
Natural resource conservation continues to be a priority for Iowa farmers. And year after year, Iowa farmers like Tim Minton are preventing soil erosion and protecting water quality with conservation practices.
Iowa farmers are continuing to implement new conservation practices on thousands of acres to reduce the loss of nutrients to surface waters under the state’s nutrient reduction strategy, which was adopted in 2013
Nick Meier’s lifelong passion for conservation and water quality has led to his use of a range of conservation practices on his farm near La Porte City, including some that are still on the cutting edge.
It’s not just your imagination. It really is raining more in the springtime than it used to, according to Christopher Anderson, assistant director of the Climate Science Program at Iowa State University.
As more farmers adopt practices outlined in the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy farmers, agricultural leaders, ag retailers and others are increasingly focused on measuring the effectiveness of the pioneering plan to improve the state’s waters and reduce nitrogen and phosphorus delivery to the Gulf of Mexico.
With measurement coming into sharper focus on Iowa’s nutrient reduction strategy, Laurie Wissler is ready to take on the challenge of getting a better handle on farmers’ progress in water quality improvement and soil conservation.
Dean Sponheim calls himself the “accidental conservationist.”
Iowa farmers have substantially changed their tillage and other farming practices in the past decade to conserve topsoil, reduce nutrient losses and improve water quality, according to a new poll released last week by Iowa State University (ISU).
Iowa’s water is like a college basketball team that’s elevating its play heading into the tournament.It’s not perfect (the “talking heads” on the sidelines can point to its flaws), but there’s no doubt...
Sitting in a conference room in downtown Des Moines, Delaware County farmer Kevin Glanz was inspired after hearing how city leaders in Cedar Rapids — unlike those in Iowa’s capital city — are working with farmers to solve water quality challenges.
Al and Ruth Schafbuch see the three saturated buffers on their farm northeast of Dysart as a way to show farmers are responsible stewards.
A $9.5 million federal grant will boost the efforts of Iowa farmers to improve water quality by expanding public-private partnerships in key watersheds, conservation leaders said last week.