Iowa farmers are responsible for producing the goods you need every day – food, clothing, and fuel. This is not a responsibility they take lightly; farmers take great care of both the land and water.
In recent decades, Iowa farmers have made significant progress in protecting our most precious resources:
- Iowa’s erosion rate on cropland has dropped nearly 30 percent since the 1980s, down to just over 5 tons per acre per year from 7.3. (source: NRCS)
- Iowa farmers have nearly 700,000 acres enrolled in the continuous Conservation Reserve Program, more than 11 percent of the U.S. total and more than any other state. (source: FSA)
- As of March 2015, Iowa farmers have voluntarily restored more than 375,000 acres of wetlands through FSA and NRCS programs. (source: FSA and NRCS)
Iowa has also activated an ambitious Nutrient Reduction Strategy in order to reduce nitrate loss to our waterways. Developed by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, and Iowa State University, the Nutrient Reduction Strategy includes an array of nutrient management, land use, and edge-of-field practices that work to reduce overall nitrate loss to Iowa waterways.
This program has been praised by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and promoted as a model for the rest of the country. Progress is ongoing and takes time. Farmers have already partnered with dozens of local organizations in watersheds across the state, investing nearly $12 million in goal setting, planning, and implementation of this science-supported conservation effort.
One thing is known – nutrients in Iowa’s water are not the result of careless over application or mismanagement by farmers. Our naturally rich soils, rainfall, and temperature all contribute to the nitrate levels of Iowa waterways, making collaborative reduction efforts crucial.