Nick Meier, Black Hawk County

Farms: Corn, soybeans

Conservation practices used: Strip-till, no-till, contours, cover crops, grass waterways, filter strips, bioreactor, saturated buffer

Farming practices evolving: One of the first things I did when I started farming in 1983 was go to the conservation office and develop a contouring plan for my sloping land because I wanted to stop the soil erosion caused by heavy rains. As time progressed I started no-till practices, which worked well with the soybeans, but not the corn. I looked into strip-till for the corn acres, which works well. In 2014 I started planting cover crops.

Benefits of cover crops: I’m having the greatest success with cereal rye, as it grows quickly and evenly and has allowed me to eliminate a pass with herbicides. I like to see green acres in the spring because then I know there is a root system in the soil to protect it from heavy rains. Cover crops greatly improve my ability to control erosion.

“I enrolled with the Soil Health Partnership to find out if what I was doing was sustainable. I want to know that I’m improving the soil and the quality of the water, but I also want to know if it’s economical.”

Working with the watershed coordinator: The coordinator of the Miller Creek Watershed suggested I install a bioreactor and a saturated buffer. Both are doing their job and greatly improving the quality of the water that leaves my farm.

Cost share programs beneficial: Some of the practices that I have added to my farm are hard to justify from an economic standpoint without cost share. I’m thankful there is funding in my watershed to add practices.