Healthier Soils, Resilient Crops, Cleaner Water

The Clean Water in Iowa Starts Here tour visited the Iowa Ag Expo at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines. The expo is the third largest indoor ag show in the U.S., and the Iowa Corn Promotion Board sponsored its annual soil and water quality seminars with Iowa farmers sharing the benefits of soil health practices such as cover crops and reduced tillage. 

2021 featured some extreme weather including widespread drought and significant areas of wind damage. These farmers’ soil health improvements really shined in this year’s extreme weather with resilient yields and other economic benefits. Despite the harsh weather, the USDA estimates the 2021 Iowa corn yields set the record for highest average yield in Iowa history at 205 bushels per acre. This is a testament to all Iowa farmers’ investments in soil health and water quality practices. For example, cover crops are now used on roughly three million acres in Iowa, building soil organic matter to increase water holding capacity for drought resilience. 

The two seminars were moderated by Sean McMahon with the Iowa Ag Water Alliance and Paige Frautschy with The Nature Conservancy. Each seminar featured three Iowa farmers from across the state. Other topics discussed included water quality benefits, soil carbon and economic opportunities such as carbon markets and low carbon fuels, and working with landlords to implement soil health practices on  rented land. Learn more at  

“2021 was a record year for corn yields highlighting the economic and productivity benefits of farmer investments in soil health across the state,” stated Ralph Lents, a farmer from Adair County and Iowa Corn Promotion Board director. “Peer-to-peer, farmer-to-farmer sharing at events like the Iowa Ag Expo helps farmers overcome any barriers to adopting new practices on their farms. When we share our journeys and the benefits of soil and water quality, it makes it easier for more farmers to adopt these practices.” 

About the Clean Water in Iowa Starts Here Campaign 

The campaign, created by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Iowa Soybean Association and Newsradio 1040 WHO aims to raise awareness about the conservation work underway all across Iowa. It also highlights opportunities for both rural and urban residents to use soil health and water quality best practices and play an active role in conservation projects happening in their communities. 

During the Clean Water in Iowa Starts Here campaign, The Big Show will visit locations throughout the state showcasing the people and practices that are having a positive and measurable impact on water quality. The conversations with farmers, landowners, agribusinesses and community leaders will be broadcast on Wednesdays during The Big Show airing from 11 a.m.–1 p.m. on WHO and 11:30 a.m.–1 p.m. on WMT. 

The Clean Water in Iowa Starts Here campaign is a collaborative effort between a dozen public and private partners, including Agri Drain, Hagie Manufacturing, Hands on Excavating, Heartland Co-op, Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance, Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Iowa Pork Producers Association, Iowa Soybean Association, Montag Manufacturing, Practical Farmers of Iowa, The Nature Conservancy and TruTerra. 

The Clean Water in Iowa Starts Here campaign began in August 2020. For more information about the campaign, upcoming stops, and rural and urban soil health and water quality practices, visit For assistance implementing conservation practices or to get involved in a community-based project, visit a nearby USDA Service Center or Soil and Water Conservation District office. 

For More Information:

Shannon Textor, Director of Communications, 515-225-9242,

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