Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey is reminding farmers that funds are available to help install practices focused on protecting water quality. Practices eligible for this state cost-share funding are cover crops, no-till or strip till, or using a nitrification inhibitor when applying fertilizer nitrogen. The assistance is available through the Iowa Water Quality Initiative.
The cost-share rate for first-time users of cover crops is $25 per acre. Farmers who are using either no-till or strip till for the first time are eligible for $10 per acre. And farmers using a nitrapyrin nitrification inhibitor when applying fall fertilizer can receive $3 per acre. Farmers are eligible for cost-share on up to 160 acres.
First-time users applying by July 24 will be first ones funded
First-time users who apply by July 24 will be the first applications funded. First-time users who apply after July 24 will still receive priority consideration, but funds will also be made available to farmers who have used cover crops in the past for cost-share assistance. These farmers will get $15 per acre.
"As of July 9, we already have $1.6 million in applications from more than 700 farmers interested in doing more on their farm to protect water quality. This includes first-time uses of cover crops as well as farmers who have tried them before and are willing to do even more," Northey says. "Fortunately, as a result of the significant increase in state funding for water quality, we have these additional cost-share funds available. I hope interested farmers will contact their local Soil and Water Conservation District soon to learn more about the assistance that is available."
Visit SWCD office and ask about additional opportunities
Farmers are also encouraged to visit their local Soil and Water Conservation District office to inquire about additional opportunities for cost-share funding through other programs offered at their local SWCDs.
The cost-share assistance was announced on May 12. Since then, the Governor of Iowa has signed into law $9.6 million to support the Iowa Water Quality Initiative, which is an increase of $5.2 million from the $4.4 million provided last year.
The Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship also received $6.75 million for conservation cost-share, a portion of which can be used on management practices such as cover crops.
In the last two years this program has been available, over 1,400 farmers put in new nutrient reduction practices on more than 144,000 acres. The state provided about $3.4 million in cost share funding to help farmers try a water quality practice for the first time and Iowa farmers provided at least another $3.4 million 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 state's Nutrient Reduction Strategy, which is a science and technology based approach to achieving a 45% reduction in nitrogen and phosphorus losses to Iowa 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.
Also, 16 targeted watershed projects have been funded
In addition to statewide cost-share, 16 targeted Water Quality Initiative demonstration watershed projects have been funded to help implement and demonstrate water quality practices. The state has provided $7.4 million in funding to support these projects and has leveraged an additional $11.7 million in additional funding from partners and landowners. More than 95 organizations are participating in these projects.
Nine Urban Conservation Water Quality Initiative Demonstration Projects have also been funded. The state of Iowa has awarded $655,194 in funding and its partners and landowners participating in the projects will provide $2.43 million to support urban conservation efforts.
More information about the Iowa Water Quality Initiative can be found at CleanWaterIowa.org.