Soil conservation program draws 1,904 farmers

December 6, 2015

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship reports that 1,904 farmers installed conservation practices such as terraces this year as part of the state’s cost-share program.

The state spent $9.8 million on the projects, with farmers adding $12.8 million for a total of $22.6 million.

The projects also included management practices, grassed waterways, grade stabilization and sediment basins. Farmers installed 515 miles of terraces this year.

The voluntary projects are drawing more attention in light of Des Moines Water Works’ federal lawsuit against three northwest Iowa counties that run drainage districts. The utility maintains that those drainage districts should be regulated under the U.S. Clean Water Act to reduce nitrate pollution that fouls the Greater Des Moines water supply. Farm groups counter that voluntary, incentive-based programs like IDALS’ cost-share work will be far more productive in reducing pollution than regulations would be.

“The cost-share program is a partnership between the local landowners and state to help get conservation practices on the land that prevent erosion and improve water quality,” Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey said in a report on the program presented to lawmakers this week. “The funds are a great investment by the state, with farmers historically contributing $1.50 or more for each dollar invested by the state.” Read more.

Source: Business Record

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