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.
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey last week highlighted the Iowa Water Quality Initiative 2016 Legislative Report during his presentation to the Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee.
Cover crops are one of many science-based conservation practices farmers are embracing to protect water.Don’t mistake this explanation for an excuse.Weather causes nitrates to seep from Iowa’s naturally...
Iowa’s ag retailers have joined with farm groups and others to launch a new collaboration that is designed to measure and validate the environmental progress that farmers are making statewide, foster additional improvements and enhance the role of certified crop advisors and ag retailers as “change agents” to encourage farmers to adopt practices to conserve soil and improve water quality.
Nitrate levels in central Iowa’s Raccoon River trended lower during the 15 years ending in 2014, despite increased corn plantings and higher fertilizer applications in the river’s watershed during that period, according to a newly released case study.
Two miles west of Sigourney in front of a farmstead on Highway 92, stands a historical marker noting the site of the first state-sanctioned plowing match in 1939.
By working together, farmers and communities can make progress in reducing nutrient loss and improving Iowa water quality, farmers and city leaders say.
Along with leading Cedar Rapids, Ron Corbett serves as a board member of the Iowa Partnership for Clean Water (IPCW), a group formed earlier this year to encourage collaboration among urban and rural communities to improve water quality and discourage frivolous lawsuits that will do nothing to improve water quality.
Myths often told and retold in the ongoing discussions over water quality issues in Iowa typically do not hold up to the scrutiny of science, Michael Castellano, an Iowa State University (ISU) soil scientist, said during a seminar last week at the 2015 Iowa Farm Bureau annual meeting in Des Moines.
Improving Iowa’s soil and water quality will take innovation, collaboration and, quite frankly, more money, according to a panel of conservation experts, researchers and farmers last week at a conference on soil and water conservation policy hosted by Drake University.
Aided by a warm, dry fall, Iowa farmers and landowners are hustling to build, or have contractors install, additional terraces, grassed waterways and other structures, contractors and agriculture officials said last week.
Iowa towns, big and small, are making water quality improvements to achieve the goals of the state's nutrient reduction strategy.
Cities and farmers should work together to achieve water quality goals instead of battling in a courtroom or political venues, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said last week during a RFD-TV Rural Town Hall in West Des Moines.
Jack Boyer has been working with cover crops longer than most Iowa farmers.
An innovative water quality project is under construction this fall in northwest Iowa. But it’s not in a large city, suburb or popular recreation destination.
More and more every year, Iowa farmers like Farm Bureau member Tim Smith are proving they care about preserving Iowa’s rich land by implementing new and innovative practices to prevent soil erosion and protect water quality.
For Tim Smith, farming has always been about a lot more than just producing corn and soybeans from his rich, Wright County soils.
One of the best parts of my job is the opportunity to travel across the state to learn about what farmers are doing to raise a healthy crop or livestock.
The Linn County Farm Bureau and the Linn County Soil and Water Conservation District hosted a tour of four area farms recently. It was designed to explain modern farming and conservation practices, according to Tim Keegan, a Linn County Farm Bureau member and farmer.
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey today announced that four projects focused on expanding the use and innovative delivery of water quality practices have been selected to receive $3.06 million in funding through the Iowa water quality initiative over the next three years.
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey today thanked Governor Branstad and the Iowa Legislature for their continued commitment to partnering with farmers to make significant long-term progress in protecting Iowa’s soil and water resources. The Governor signed into law $9.6 million to support the Iowa Water Quality Initiative in the new fiscal year.
Passengers flying in and out of Cedar Rapids’ Eastern Iowa Airport will soon be looking down on something in the fields that’s a little different than Iowa’s typical fields of corn and soybeans.
The recent flooding around the state is a reminder of the importance of water quality to all of us, whether you live in the heart of a city or call rural Iowa home. Our families like to fish, swim, and...
Cedar Rapids mayor Ron Corbett shares how collaboration between Cedar Rapids and area farmers is helping improve water quality in eastern Iowa.
Last week Des Moines Register columnist Kyle Munson kicked off a #UniteIowa campaign, a documented crusade to find and encourage common ground between rural and urban Iowans.He started with a trip to...
Iowa farmers are more interested than ever in implementing practices to help them protect the state’s water quality and conserve precious topsoil.
Nick Meier takes a proactive approach to protecting water quality and reducing soil loss on his farm near La Porte City in Black Hawk County.
Cover crops are one of the fastest-growing conservation practices in Iowa as farmers pursue the environmental, and hopefully economic, gains of having plants growing in their farm fields year round.
Prairie strips placed strategically within Iowa fields are providing impressive results to help row-crop farms reduce nutrient loss.
The primary cause of nitrate loss into Iowa’s surface water is bare soils during periods when crops aren’t growing and not because of a misapplication of fertilizer by farmers, Iowa agronomists and soil scientists said.
When Dwight Dial of Lake City began no-tilling in the 1980s, he wasn’t deterred by the comments of other farmers who weren’t impressed with this farming method. “‘I’d quit farming before I’d become a trash farmer’ is how they put it,” said Dial, who grows 700 acres of soybeans and corn in southwestern Calhoun County.
By applying conservation practices such as wind turbines, solar panels and manure management, Jason Russell has helped his family farm pave the way in conservation and water quality.
Bryan Mowrer of Guthrie County is a farmer who goes to sleep at night dreaming of terraces, who enjoys experimenting with cover crops, who can barely remember when they tilled the ground. And, as he emphasizes, he is not alone.
A growing number of Iowa communities - of all sizes and from every corner of the state - are working with local farmers to improve the quality of their drinking water sources. That collaboration, according to municipal and state regulatory officials, is helping communities meet federal standards for nitrogen, phosphorus and other nutrients, hold down costs and build stronger and lasting relationships with farmers in their areas.
It’s hard to know who to believe regarding Iowa’s water quality, and a recently filed lawsuit only clouds the conversation.What’s clear is that many state and federal officials believe Iowans’ collaborative...
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey today announced that three additional watershed demonstration projects have been selected to receive $1.4 million in funding through the Iowa water quality initiative over the next three years.
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey today announced funds are available for projects focused on implementing and demonstrating innovative delivery of practices to protect water quality.
Farmer awareness of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy nearly doubled during the past year according to a statewide survey of more than 350 farmers funded by the soybean checkoff.
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey became the first state Secretary of Agriculture to receive a National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) National Environmental Achievement Award for excellence in Public Service, for his leadership in establishing and growing the Iowa Water Quality Initiative (also known as the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy).
Alicia Schmitt discusses conservation practices she and husband Greg have brought to their family's farm.More than 500 young Iowans, the largest attendance on record, gathered in Des Moines recently for...
The lawsuit that the Des Moines Water Works (DMWW) has threatened to file against three northwest Iowa counties has sparked a heated debate in the state around the merits of a voluntary system to improve water quality versus a government-driven regulatory system.
The Sioux City Journal has expressed its hope that litigation can be avoided in the dispute between Des Moines Water Works and three rural Iowa counties over nitrates in water.
The city of Cedar Rapids partnered with multiple agriculture commodity groups Jan. 14 as $2 million in Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) funding was approved for water-quality improvement projects in the Middle Cedar River.
We’ve seen this scenario before. A discouraged player points a finger at teammates, demands a trade, criticizes fans or calls for a new coach.And while we, as fans, can certainly relate to the player’s...
Farmers’ growing participation in voluntary conservation programs is improving water quality and reducing soil erosion in Iowa and other states and that success story needs to be spotlighted to the general public
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) last week awarded $370 million in matching funds to spur conservation gains through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey today announced that he will be visiting the three Northwest Iowa counties subject of a potential lawsuit by Des Moines Water Works on Tuesday, Jan. 20 and Wednesday, Jan. 21. During the visits Northey will visit with community leaders and highlight the significant investment made by farmers in these counties to protect water quality.
Iowa’s water quality initiative is gaining momentum and enjoys strong support from farmers, lawmakers and federal environmental regulators, Iowa’s top agricultural and environmental officials said last week.
Iowa farmers are taking many different approaches in maintaining and improving soil and water quality, proving there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach.
The leader of the Iowa Farm Bureau says record number of conservation practices have been put into place in the last two years, and says they will continue to push for more.
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey today highlighted the 2,382 Iowa farmers that used state cost share funds to install conservation practices during the state’s 2014 fiscal year, which ran from July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014.