Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig today reminded Iowa farmers that funds are available to help install practices focused on protecting water quality. Practices eligible for this funding are cover crops, no-till or strip till, or using a nitrification inhibitor when applying fertilizer.
The cost share rate for first-time users of cover crops is $25 per acre, no-till or strip till are eligible for $10 per acre and farmers using a nitrapyrin nitrification inhibitor when applying fall fertilizer can receive $3 per acre. Farmers are eligible for cost share on up to 160 acres.
First-time users that apply by July 27 will be the first applications funded. First-time users that apply after July 27 will still receive priority consideration, but funds will also be made available to farmers that have used cover crops in the past for cost share assistance at $15 per acre.
“We already have $1.3 million in applications from more than 600 new farmers interested in trying a practice for the first time to better protect water quality. We encourage farmers that are interested to contact their local Soil and Water Conservation District office as soon as possible to learn more about the assistance that is available,” Naig said.
The 100 Soil and Water Conservation District offices located in each county across the state have information about this program and other opportunities for cost share funding.
Background on Iowa Water Quality Initiative
The Iowa Water Quality Initiative was established in 2013 to help implement the Nutrient Reduction Strategy, which is a science and technology based approach to achieving a 45 percent reduction in nitrogen and phosphorus losses to our waters. The strategy brings together both point sources, such as municipal wastewater treatment plants and industrial facilities, and nonpoint sources, including farm fields and urban stormwater runoff, to address these issues.
The Initiative seeks to harness the collective ability of both private and public resources and organizations to deliver a clear and consistent message to stakeholders to reduce nutrient loss and improve water quality.
The initiative is seeing some exciting results. Last fall, 2,600 farmers invested an estimated $8.7 million in funding to match $4.8 million in state cost share funds to adopt cover crops, no-till or strip till, or use a nitrification inhibitor when applying fall fertilizer. Participants include 1,000 farmers using a practice for the first time and more than 1,600 past users who are trying cover crops again and are receiving a reduced rate of cost share.
A total of 65 demonstration projects are currently located across the state to help implement and demonstrate water quality practices. This includes 14 targeted watershed projects, 7 projects focused on expanding the use and innovative delivery of water quality practices and 44 urban water quality demonstration projects. More than 250 organizations are participating in these projects. These partners will provide $37.7 million to go with the $23.4 million in state funding going to these projects.
More than $420 million in funding has been documented for efforts in support of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy last year. This represents a $32 million increase of funding in support of Iowa water quality programs and conservation efforts over the previous year.
More information about the initiative can be found at www.CleanWaterIowa.org.