News Read news about Iowa’s conservation progress.



8 fresh water quality stats for Earth Day


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.

Iowa farmers build on strong legacy of conservation


As Iowa farmers take on the challenge of improving water quality through the state’s four-year-old Clean Water Initiative

New USGS tracking tool shows water quality gains in Iowa


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.

Farmers, not lawsuit, push water quality


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.

DMWW lawsuit dismissed, conservation work continues


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.

Years of experience make Lynches believers in conservation


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.

A new generation carries on conservation tradition


Luke Broulik and Tim Keegan are third-generation conservationist farmers on the Broulick farm in Linn County.

Southeast Iowa farmers find yield gains in cover crops, no-till


A southeast Iowa farm family harvested record yields in 2016 after managing cropland soils with no-till and cover crops.

Northey: Focus on edge-of-field practices in water quality scale-up


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.

Research is aiding farmers’ work on water quality


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.

DMACC students get real-world experience in conservation


Iowa farmers have been experimenting with growing cover crops on their farms

Research finds many benefits for farmers planting cover crops


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.

Millers conservation philosophy guides water quality project


Taking on the challenge of improving water quality and reducing soil erosion is nothing new for Randy and Carol Miller

Collaborations help Storm Lake lead on water quality


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.

Did you see that? Don’t overlook Iowa’s water quality gains


Cover crops, buffer strips, and wetlands might not look impressive, but they are producing some amazing results!

Iowa's water quality progress is happening in your backyard


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.

Poll: Conservation practices gaining ground on Iowa farms


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.

IDALS to fund projects focused on water quality


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. 

Farmer says livestock and grain farmers must work together


For Tama County Farm Bureau member John Weber, conservation is at the heart of his livestock and grain farm.

Practical Farmers of Iowa studies benefits of cover crops


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.

Iowa launches strategy to boost monarch butterfly population


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.

Iowa cover crop acreage jumps again in 2016


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

30-plus organizations team up to help re-establish monarch habitat in Iowa


The Iowa Monarch Conservation Consortium has released a statewide strategy to support monarch butterfly recovery in Iowa and North America.

Environmental award nominations open


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.

Conservation gains neighbor to neighbor


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.

Nominate a Deserving Conservation Farmer for State Award


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.

Iowa officials outline plans to scale up water quality efforts


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.

Baders earn IPPA environmental award


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.

No time to ease up on water quality


I bumped into my friend, Al Schafbuch, at a conference last week.

Study finds cereal rye cover crop has little effect on corn yields and may help soybeans


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

ISU’s soil health conference set for Feb. 16-17 in Ames


The second annual Iowa Soil Health Conference is set for Feb. 16 and 17 in Ames.

Soil health partnership setting sites for 2017 field days


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.

Pork group offers funding for water quality projects


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.

Northey: Iowa farmers making water quality gains


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 pleased with Iowa Supreme Court ruling on the Des Moines Water Works lawsuit


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.

An open call for nominations to find Iowa's best conservation farmer


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.

Securing dedicated water quality funding, coupling with federal tax policy, and protecting property taxpayers top Iowa Farm Bureau's 2017 legislative priorities


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.

USDA, partners invest in Iowa conservation


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

Farmers share conservation stories to build water quality momentum


There’s a new set of discussion topics these days at farm meetings around Iowa.

Water quality: Some assembly required


Some assembly required. Those three words strike fear in the hearts of parents as Christmas approaches...

98th Iowa Farm Bureau Annual Meeting celebrates innovation, accomplishments of agriculture


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.

The secret ingredient to water quality


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.

Farmers taking on challenge of water quality


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.

Question: Why do I keep seeing green crops growing in just-harvested cornfields across the state this fall?


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.

Farmers have top-notch ally in water quality


Iowa farmers, as we’ve chronicled in the Spokesman, are taking on the challenge of improving the state’s water quality.

Conservation for the future


The Green family in northeast Iowa honored as conservation farmers of the year.

Tight budgets aren’t slowing interest in cover crops


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).

Growing more food, using fewer resources


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.

The report card is in; water quality progress shows through


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.

Recent deluge shows value of conservation


These days the excitement of the start of the 2016 Iowa harvest is trending big all over social media.

Iowa shoppers trust farmers to care for animals, environment


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.

Report shows progress on Iowa’s water quality initiative


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).

Work by farmers and landowners transforms western Iowa lake into a premier fishing spot


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.

Collaboration, education key to water quality efforts


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.

Iowa Farm Bureau members Dale and Karen Green win Iowa Conservation Farmer of the Year Award


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.

Greens earn statewide award for ongoing conservation efforts


Dale and Karen Green’s Winneshiek County farm is all about sustainability.

Cover crop season


Are you seeing green in a newly harvested cornfield? Expect to see more cover crops in fields this fall.

Iowa family’s heritage strengthened by determination and years of conservation


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.

Branstad says he’s optimistic about water quality funding


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.

Awards provide a look at water quality gains


Want a positive jolt of optimism about how Iowa farmers are taking on the challenge of improving water quality and re­­ducing soil loss?

Iowa Farmer Today: Illinois farmers applaud Iowa’s collaborative conservation


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.

Illinois farmers impressed by Iowa’s collaboration, aggressive adoption of water quality practices


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.

Illinois farmers impressed with Iowa’s water quality effort


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.

A neighbor's perspective on water quality


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 farm environmental leaders to be recognized at state fair


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 Co. farmer doubles up to improve water quality


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.

Spotlighting farmers’ water quality efforts at the Iowa State Fair


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.

Conservation partners


Farm Bureau Park at the Iowa State Fair will showcase farmers' efforts to protect water quality.

Visitors to Farm Bureau Park can learn about protecting Iowa’s soil at Conservation Station


Did you know one shovel full of soil contains more living things than people on planet Earth? More than 7 billion!

Water quality academy showcases farmers’ conservation efforts


Legislators got a closer look recently at what farmers are doing to protect water quality in northern Iowa.

35-plus conservation field days around 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!

Water quality partners


Community joins together to improve water quality at Black Hawk Lake.

Study shows farmers’ efforts can improve water quality


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.

Farmers, advisors work toward  achieving water quality goals


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.

Collaboration enhances conservation on marginal acres


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.

Iowa Minute: Iowa farmers are restoring "nature's nitrate filters"


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.

Iowa Farm Bureau relaunches conservation website for farmers and all Iowans, packed with information demonstrating water quality progress


Today, Iowa Farm Bureau relaunched 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.

Farmer sees benefits in letting cover crops grow tall


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.

Study shows added corn acres in Raccoon River watershed did not raise nitrate delivery levels


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).

Iowa farmers are stepping up to improve soil health


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 leading the way in conservation


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.

Iowa Minute: Collaborating to measure conservation progress


See how the Iowa Nutrient Research and Education Council is bringing together partners to provide farmers with conservation expertise and measure progress.

Conservation cost-share funds available for Iowa farmers


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.

ISU launches collaboration to improve water quality


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 shows benefits of keeping cover crops longer


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 supports House proposal to fund continued conservation progress


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.

Buena Vista County farmer’s commitment to protecting soil and water spans decades


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.

Public-private partnerships bolster five watershed projects


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.

Minton aims to leave land ‘better than we found it’


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.

Cover crops gaining momentum with farmers


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

Meier innovates with cutting-edge conservation efforts


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.

Farmers adapting to heavier springtime rainfall patterns


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.

Measuring Iowa’s march to reaching water quality goals


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.

ISU using data from many sources to track conservation progress


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.

Innovation keeps family at the forefront of conservation


Dean Sponheim calls himself the “accidental conservationist.”

ISU poll: Farmers are adopting, investing in conservation


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).

5 fresh stats prove Iowa’s water quality progress


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...

Farm and city partnerships can solve water quality challenges


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.

Installing saturated buffers is part of being good steward for Schafbuch


Al and Ruth Schafbuch see the three saturated buffers on their farm northeast of Dysart as a way to show farmers are responsible stewards.

Federal grant will boost Iowa conservation partnerships


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.