Northey: 2,600 farmers have committed $8.7 million to water quality practices

Record number of farmers sign-up to try cover crops, no-till/strip till or nitrification inhibitor
 
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey announced today that a record number of Iowa farmers signed up to install nutrient reduction practices on their farm through the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship’s statewide water quality cost share program.

More than 2,600 farmers signed up to try cover crops, no-till/strip-till or nitrification inhibitor on more than 270,000 acres in 98 counties. The state will provide nearly $4.8 million in cost share funds to match the $8.7 million investment by Iowa farmers.

“I continue to be encouraged by the growing interest by Iowa farmers in trying practices focused on limiting nutrient loss and improving water quality. It is great to see 1,000 farmers trying a brand new practice on their farm and 1,600 farmers trying cover crops again at a reduced-rate of cost share. We are seeing farmers making a long-term commitment to learning about these new practices and seeing how they fit into their operation,” Northey said.

Participants include 1,005 farmers using a practice for the first time and 1,600 past users that are trying cover crops again and are receiving a reduced-rate of cost share.  The first-time users cover 96,000 acres; the past users will use cover crops on over  175,000 acres.

Farmers not already utilizing the practice were eligible for cost share for cover crops of $25 per acre, $10 per acre for trying no-till or strip till and $3 per acre for using a nitrapyrin nitrification inhibitor when applying fall fertilizer. Farmers that had used cover crops in the past were eligible for $15 per acre in cost share. Cost share was only available on up to 160 acres.

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 water quality practices on their farm.

In the four years this statewide program has been available, over 4,800 farmers, with participants in each of Iowa’s 99 counties, have put in nutrient reduction practices on more than 455,000 acres. The state provided about $9.3 million in cost share funding to help farmers try a water quality practice and Iowa farmers matched with more than $9.3 million of their own resources to support these water quality practices.
 
Background on Iowa Water Quality Initiative
The Iowa Water Quality Initiative was established in 2013 to help implement the Nutrient Reduction Strategy, which is a collaborative research based approach to achieving a 45 percent reduction in nitrogen and phosphorus losses to our waters.  The strategy brings together both point sources, such as municipal wastewater treatment plants and industrial facilities, and nonpoint sources, including farm fields and urban stormwater runoff, to address these issues.

The initiative seeks to harness the collective ability of both private and public resources and organizations to deliver a clear and consistent message to stakeholders to reduce nutrient loss and improve water quality.

In addition to the statewide cost share, there are also currently 56 existing demonstration projects located across the state to help implement and demonstrate water quality practices through the initiative. This includes 15 targeted watershed projects, 7 projects focused on expanding the use and innovative delivery of water quality practices and 34 urban water quality demonstration projects. More than 220 organizations are participating in these projects. These partners will provide $32.3 million dollars to go with over $21.7 million in state funding going to these projects.

More than $340 million in state and federal funds have been directed to programs with water quality benefits in Iowa last year. This total does not include the cost share amount that farmers pay to match state and federal programs and funds spent to build practices built without government assistance.

More information about the initiative can be found at www.CleanWaterIowa.org.

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