Iowa farmers have once again demonstrated a strong desire to use new practices designed to improve water quality in the state.
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey announced July 24 that all $1.4 million in cost share funds made available to help farmers statewide install new nutrient reduction practices have been obligated. Northey announced on July 8 that the funds would be available on July 17. All the funds were obligated to farmers in less than five business days.
“The tremendous response to these cost share funds shows again that farmers are committed to using voluntary, science-based conservation practices to continue to improve water quality,” Northey said. “In less than one week, Iowa farmers committed to matching the state investment, so $2.8 million in new water quality practices will be going on the ground this fall.”
Eligible practices included cover crops, no-till or strip till, or use of a nitrification inhibitor when applying fall fertilizer.
The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship received applications covering 59,883 acres from 597 different farmers seeking to participate in the program. That includes 54,679 acres of cover crops, 2,531 acres of nitrification inhibitor, 1,656 acres of no-till and 1,015 acres of strip-till. Farmers in 90 of 100 Soil and Water Conservation Districts across the state received funding.
Only farmers not already utilizing the practice were eligible to apply for assistance and cost share was only available on up to 160 acres. The cost share rate for cover crops was $25 per acre and was $10 for farmers trying no-till or strip till. Farmers using a nitrapyrin nitrification inhibitor when applying fall fertilizer were eligible to receive $3 per acre.
Farmers are encouraged to still reach out to their local Soil and Water Conservation District office as there may be other programs available to help them implement these voluntary, science-based water quality practices on their farm.
The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship received $4.4 million for the Iowa Water Quality Initiative in fiscal 2015. These funds will allow the department to continue to encourage the broad adoption of water quality practices through statewide cost share assistance, as well as more intensive work in targeted watersheds.
Last year in just two weeks, more than 1,000 farmers signed up for cost share funding to help implement new nutrient reduction practices on 100,000 acres. The state provided $2.8 million in cost share funding to help farmers try a water quality practice for the first time and Iowa farmers provided at least another $2.8 million to support these water quality practices.
Visit CleanWaterIowa.org to learn more about voluntary, science-based practices that can be implemented on our farms and in our cities to improve water quality. Iowans also can follow @CleanWaterIowa on Twitter or “like” the page on Facebook to receive updates and other information about the ongoing Iowa water quality initiative.