Iowa Soil and Water Conservation Week is an opportunity to recognize the important conservation practices placed on Iowa’s landscape and bring attention to the ongoing work by farmers, landowners and urban residents to protect the state’s soil and water resources.
Iowa Governor Terry Branstad will sign a proclamation recognizing April 27 – May 4 as Iowa Soil and Water Conservation Week and activities and events are held across the state throughout the week. To see details of all events being held in Iowa, visit www.iowaagriculture.gov/conservationweek.asp.
Branstad, Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds and Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey will participate in a cover crop event in Page County on Friday, May 2. Jim O’Hara, who used cover crops for the first time this year, and long-time cover crop user Kelly Tobin will discuss their experiences with this conservation practice that is rapidly growing in popularity. The event will be at O’Hara’s farm, 1526 190th St., Shenandoah, from 8 to 10 a.m. with the Gov. and Lt. Gov. in attendance from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m.
“Soil and Water Conservation Week is a great opportunity to highlight the important work being done to prevent soil erosion and protect water quality in Iowa,” Northey said. “It is vital that we preserve these resources that help make Iowa agriculture so productive and such a key driver of our state’s economy.”
Iowa Soil and Water Conservation Week is in coordination with the national Stewardship Week, sponsored by the National Association of Conservation Districts. This year’s Stewardship Week theme is “Dig Deeper: Mysteries in the Soil.”
The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship’s Division of Soil Conservation provides leadership in the protection and management of soil, water and mineral resources. The Division also works with Soil and Water Conservation Districts and private farmers and landowners to meet their agricultural and environmental protection needs, in both rural and urban landscapes. Conservation partners include USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Iowa State University, and many others.
The Department has worked with farmers for decades to help them install practices designed to prevent erosion and keep soils in place and in recent years there has been an increased focused on water quality. Efforts have included statewide cost share assistance and more focused efforts in targeted watersheds.
Last fall, in just two weeks, over 1,000 farmers signed up for cost share funding to help implement new nutrient reduction practices on their farm. $2.8 million was available to help farmers try a water quality practice for the first time with Iowa farmers providing at least another $2.8 million in matching funds.
Also, eight watershed demonstration projects were selected and are starting to work within the large priority watersheds identified by the Iowa Water Resources Coordinating Council. These projects will receive $4.1 million in funding through the Iowa water quality initiative over the next three years. In addition to the state funds, the eight projects will provide over $8 million in matching funds to support water quality improvement efforts. More information about the Department’s efforts focused on water quality can be found at www.CleanWaterIowa.org.
“We still have more work to do on conservation, but working together, in partnership, I’m confident we can build on the conservation ethic of Iowans and continue our efforts to improve the quality of the air, soil and water in our state,” Northey said.
Northey, a corn and soybean farmer from Spirit Lake, is serving his second term as Iowa Secretary of Agriculture. His priorities are the expanding the opportunities surrounding renewable energy, promoting conservation and stewardship, and telling the story of Iowa agriculture.