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Nutrient Management in Iowa

Posted on September 6, 2013 at 10:31 AM by Iowa Corn

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) estimates about 700 farms are implementing conservation practices outlined by the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy. The legislature made available 22 million dollars over five years to support water quality practices. John Lawrence, associate dean and director of Iowa State University Extension and Outreach programs, says the practices and costs in the plan are intended to be attractive to farmers.

It looks like farmers are finding the strategy attractive as IDALS recently released $1 million in cost share funding. Eight days later that entire amount was allocated and an additional $1.8 million in cost sharing was announced.

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey said in a department press release that the tremendous response to this program shows that farmers will respond voluntarily. He went on to say he is excited to see 1,100 farmers willing to put their own money toward trying new practices.

IDALS reports applications covering 120,680 acres including 109,415 acres of cover crops; 7,321 acres of nitrification inhibitor, 2,675 acres of no-till and 1,268 acres of strip-till. Farmers in 97 of the 100 Soil and Water Conservation Districts received funding.

To support the efforts, the USDA released a new report that shows voluntary conservation efforts have reduced sediment and nutrient loss from farms in the Mississippi River Basin. The report shows that conservation work has reduced edge of field losses of sediment by 35 percent, nitrogen by 21 percent, and phosphorous by 52 percent.

Although the report stresses an overall reduction in sediment, nitrogen, and phosphorous compared to what would have been lost if no conservation practices were in place, the report also shows that an additional 15 percent of nitrogen and 12 percent of phosphorus can be achieved by implementing comprehensive conservation practices like the Nutrient Reduction Strategy is supporting.

Farmer Tim Smith of Eagle Grove was quoted as saying, "The Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy is voluntary, but it's not optional."

Sources: DTN - 8/27/2013 and Iowa Public Radio 8/28/2013

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