News Read news about Iowa’s conservation progress.



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).

State Forest Nursery Offers "Fall Color" Seedling Packets


October kicks off another year of special seedling packets from the State Forest Nursery. The October packet features species with rich fall color and includes a bonus 50 seedlings.

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.

Northey outlines 2015 conservation gains


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.

Water quality experts: farmers are cooperating, even when nature doesn’t


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 ag retailers launch water quality collaboration


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.

Study shows Raccoon River nitrate levels trending lower


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.

Iowa’s landscape shows farmers’ continual progress in conservation


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.

Collaborations essential for water quality gains


By working together, farmers and communities can make progress in reducing nutrient loss and improving Iowa water quality, farmers and city leaders say.

Cedar Rapids’ Corbett: Des Moines Water Works suit threatens Iowa farmers and rural communities


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 about Iowa water quality issues need to be busted


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.

Partnerships seen as key to advancing water quality goals


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.

Dry fall helps farmers add  conservation structures


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.

Working together  for water quality


Iowa towns, big and small, are making water quality improvements to achieve the goals of the state's nutrient reduction strategy.

Vilsack: Cooperation, not litigation, key to water quality gains


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.

Farmers try out new cover crop seeding methods


Jack Boyer has been working with cover crops longer than most Iowa farmers.

Innovative projects help Iowa towns reduce nutrient loss


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.

Iowa Farm Bureau member Tim Smith wins Iowa Soil Conservation Farmer of the Year Award


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.

Conservation ethic guides Wright County’s Smith


For Tim Smith, farming has always been about a lot more than just producing corn and soybeans from his rich, Wright County soils.

Seeing it first hand: Linn Co. farmers show off conservation progress


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.

Conservation tour highlights practices in Linn County


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.

Four Projects Focused on Expanding Use and Innovative Delivery of Water Quality Practices Selected to Receive Water Quality Initiative Funding


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.

$9.6 million for water quality: “Water Quality” officially added to title of Division of Soil Conservation


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.

Water quality research takes off at Cedar Rapids’ airport


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.

Looking beyond the surface to fully understand Iowa’s water quality


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...

Fishing in Iowa


Iowa trout streams benefit from farmers' water quality efforts

Cedar Rapids mayor: Ag and conservation are not mutually exclusive


Cedar Rapids mayor Ron Corbett shares how collaboration between Cedar Rapids and area farmers is helping improve water quality in eastern Iowa.

#UniteIowa ? Yeah, let’s get to work!


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...

Farmers eager to learn from conservation demonstrations


Iowa farmers are more interested than ever in implementing practices to help them protect the state’s water quality and conserve precious topsoil.

Saturated buffers a new tool to improve water quality


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.

Use of cover crops continues to grow on Iowa farms


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 show promise as effective conservation tool


Prairie strips placed strategically within Iowa fields are providing impressive results to help row-crop farms reduce nutrient loss.

Crop timing, not fertilizer overuse, reason for nitrate losses


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.

Dial builds a legacy of caring for soil and water


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.

With a wide range of conservation practices, Russell is dedicated to environmental gains


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.

Conservation work second nature for farmer


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.

Farmers, Iowa Communities Collaborate to Protect Water (1)


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.

They said it. 8 experts who say Iowa’s water quality is heading in the right direction


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...

Three Watershed Demonstration Projects Selected to Receive Water Quality Initiative Funding


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.

Funds available for expanding use of innovative water quality practices


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.

Survey: Farmers more aware of Nutrient Reduction Strategy, increasing conservation efforts


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.

Northey, Iowa Water Quality Initiative honored with national environmental award


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).

Young farmers talk conservation


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...

Northey: Voluntary water quality effort far superior to regulation


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.

Sioux City Journal Editorial: Let’s pursue water quality in Iowa without lawsuits


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.

Agriculture groups, urban water works collaborate on key water quality project


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.

4 things Iowans should know about protecting water


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...

Vilsack touts voluntary conservation efforts


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