News Read news about Iowa’s conservation progress.



Cattle care and conservation lead farm family


The Glicks, Cedar County Farm Bureau members, have been recognized with the Wergin Good Farm Neighbor award.

Cover crops growing on more Iowa acres


Survey shows a nearly 22 percent gain in 2017, continuing the upward trend.

Conservation practices trimming nitrate losses


Cover crops, bioreactors and other practices are reducing losses of nitrogen from fields, according to Iowa Soybean Association data.

Iowa water quality funding on track


Senate File 512 will augment long-standing conservation and water quality efforts in Iowa.

Why does Iowa’s new water quality bill matter? Q & A with two Iowa farmers who attended Governor Reynolds’ bill signing


On January 31, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed her first bill, a bill that commits long-term, dedicated funding ($282 million over 12 years) to conservation and water quality improvements. Mark Kenney, a corn and soybean farmer in Story County, and Doug Adams, a Humboldt County farmer and soil conservation technician for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), were two farmers on-hand for the bill signing.

Governor Reynolds signs long-term water quality funding bill


Today, Governor Kim Reynolds signed into law a $282 million water quality bill that provides long-term funding for science-based water quality protection practices.

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


Nominations are now being sought to find and recognize the 2018 Iowa Conservation Farmer of the Year. The prestigious honor includes a substantial prize; the winner receives use of a new John Deere 6E utility tractor for a year, courtesy of prize sponsors Van Wall and John Deere.

Water quality training offered


Teachers and other educators can learn about water quality and how science can help manage soil nutrients like nitrates through a new graduate course offered by the Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation.

Iowa water quality strategy on track


Public and private collaboration is helping officials scale up conservation practices.

Caring for the land and livestock


Survey shows that Iowans want farmers to have flexibility in farming practices.

Iowa Farm Bureau lauds Iowa House on passage of long-term, dedicated funding to support the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy


Members of the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF), the state’s largest grassroots farm organization, applauded the passage of Senate File 512 in the Iowa House of Representatives.

Iowans support farmer's conservation efforts


There’s good news for Iowa farm families, from the latest Iowa Farm Bureau Food & Farm Index survey results. Over three-fourths (77%) of Iowa grocery shoppers are confident Iowa farmers are caring for the environment responsibly, with 1 in 4 (24%) being very confident!

Reynolds highlights water quality funding


The Iowa Governor also pledges to work for state tax reform in the 2018 legislative session.

Scaling up is the next step for water quality work


When the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy was released in 2012 it was a whole new approach to addressing the important issue of water quality. Rather than setting some overly ambitious goal without a plan to achieve it, we looked at the science to see what it would actually take to see a 45 percent reduction in the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus leaving the state and making its way to the Gulf of Mexico.

Iowa’s water quality strategy continues  to show progress


Iowa continues to show progress on reducing nutrient loss from farm fields and other sources to improve water quality, according to the latest update of the state’s Water Quality Initiative.

Plan offering crop insurance discounts for cover crops gains


A new pilot program aimed at boosting Iowa’s cover crop acres by linking them to discounts on crop insurance premiums is gaining momentum

Education will drive adoption of conservation practices


Building momentum for farmer adoption of conservation practices, such as cover crops, waterways and bioreactors, will require additional field days, more educational seminars and simply more time

Family finds turkeys fit well with conservation efforts


The Hermanson family began raising turkeys on their Story County farm seven decades ago to provide more income diversity. It’s been a successful strategy; raising turkeys has, over the years, helped the farm add value to its crops.

Iowa program offers discount on crop insurance for farmers who plant cover crops


Iowa farmers who plant cover crops this fall may be eligible for a $5-per-acre premium reduction on their crop insurance in 2018, under a pilot program announced last week by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS).

Northern Iowa family opts for conservation tillage


“Corn isn’t going to be $7 forever.” With those words six years ago, Joe Bormann sparked a family conversation on how he and his dad, Mark, and brother, Matt, were growing corn and soybeans on their northern Iowa farms.

EPA report backs states’ progress on water quality


In a new report to Congress, the Environmental Protection Ag­­ency’s Hypoxia Task Force (HTF) highlighted the progress that Iowa and 11 other states in the Mississippi River valley are making in reducing nitrogen and phosphorus loading in the Gulf of Mexico.

#KeeptheStubble during No-Tillage November


The key points NRCS hopes to drive home with farmers is that bypassing tillage helps farmers save money, time, improve soil health and provide wildlife habitat.

“No tillage November” campaign urges farmers to leave the stubble


The U.S. Department of Agri­culture’s Natural Resources Con­­servation Service (NRCS) is encouraging Iowa farmers to “Keep the Stubble” on their harvested crop fields to help improve soil health, water quality and wildlife habitat.

Report shows continued progress on conservation


Iowa farmers continue to make steady and measurable progress on implementing practices, such as cover crops, bioreactors and wetlands, which have been shown to reduce losses of nitrogen and phosphorus and to improve the quality of the state’s streams, river and lakes.

Iowa conservation pioneer is always learning


As more Iowa farmers take up the challenge of protecting water quality, reducing erosion and building soil quality, they are tapping into the real-world experiences and knowledge that’s been built up over the decades by the state’s conservation pioneers all over Iowa.

Collaboration is vital for continued conservation progress


It takes a collaborative effort and local, state and federal partnerships to continue the progress that’s being made in conservation, stakeholders said last week in a discussion about collaboration and conservation.

Drought conditions heighten the need for cover crops


In addition to punishing yields, drought conditions in much of Iowa this summer had profound impact on soil health, including limited nutrient uptake by crops

Iowa’s economy benefits from ag’s water quality work


Iowa got a dose of good economic news last week when Apple, the iPhone maker and the world’s most valuable company, announced plans to build a data center in the state.

Washington Co. farmers leading the way in cover crops


More and more farmers across Iowa are planting cover crops to improve soil health slow erosion and improve water quality. And Washington County is leading the way.

Cover crop gains are expected to emerge over time


Early indicators show that cover crops are indeed improving water quality and soil health.

Awards show Iowa  ag stepping up to improve water


Critics of Iowa’s water quality initiative often complain that only a few farmers in the state are stepping up to adopt conservation practices or are installing structures designed to improve the state’s water quality.

Water quality cost-share funds available


Iowa farmers can apply for cost-share funds to help install practices focused on protecting water quality.

Duvall gets up close look at Iowa conservation efforts


The first thing Zippy Duvall noticed during his visit to Iowa last week was how corn dominates the state’s mid-summer landscape

Fremont County farmer, Chris Teachout, named Iowa Conservation Farmer of the Year


Chris Teachout of Shenandoah was using cover crops on his family farm long before they became a widely recognized and popular conservation practice in Iowa to reduce erosion and improve soil health and water quality.

Conservation success inspires continued learning


Chris Teachout was us­­ing cover crops before cover crops were widely touted throughout the state for their use in slowing erosion and diminishing runoff.

River clean-up crew sees how farmers aid water quality


Iowans have similar interests in cleaning up and protecting water resources, river clean-up volunteers in Floyd County learned last week.

Trout fishing returns


A collaborative effort among farmers, communities and government agencies improves water quality in the Driftless Region's trout streams.

Then versus now


What do you recall about the summers of your youth? When I think of the summer of 1978, I remember bean walking with my ‘Girl Crew’ at dawn, trying to get a field done before the mid-day heat found us.

Iowa Minute: Finding the best conservation practices for a farm requires collaboration


Ankeny farmers Carol and Randy Miller discovered that a bioreactor was the best conservation practice for their farm - to help reduce nitrates in their watershed. But each farm is different, and finding the best conservation practices for a particular farm requires time and collaboration.

Cover crop acreage is on the rise in Iowa


Iowa farmers planted a record 600,000 cover crop acres last fall, using cost-share programs and on their own

Farmers' water quality efforts help trout flourish in NE Iowa


Trout need clean, cold water to survive. And thanks to many Iowa farmers who are taking on the challenge to improve water quality, the fish are getting just what they need in northeast Iowa.

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.

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?