Farmers in Iowa who are participating in state cost share programs and are intending to plant cover crops this fall have until November 1 to get the cover crops planted and still qualify for assistance.
This extension is only available for winter-hardy, small grains that are likely to establish yet this fall, specifically winter rye, winter triticale and winter wheat. Other species such as, oats, radishes, turnips and legumes are not likely to provide the desired growth to be effective if planted this late in the season. There are an estimated 108,000 acres of cover crops supported by state cost share programs.
"Everything has been behind this year due to delayed planting, cool temperatures during the growing season and now the wet fall, so some farmers have been unable to get cover crops planted as timely as they had anticipated," notes Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey. "Based on the research available in Iowa, November 1 is still a reasonable date to get certain species of cover crops seeded. It may be necessary for farmers to work with their seed vendor to alter the mix they had planned to use."
Recommended cutoff date for seeding was October 15
The recommended cutoff date for seeding cover crops in Iowa previously was October 15. The Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship in consultation with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) have decided the date could be extended. Guidance from Iowa State University agronomists confirmed cover crops planted after this date still have the potential to provide substantial reduction in nutrient losses and soil erosion, so the state ag department extended the deadline until November 1 for this fall's planting.
Farmers who had been approved for cost share assistance and are still unable to get cover crops seeded should contact their local Soil & Water Conservation District office.
Pre-apply for additional water quality demonstration projects
Northey also announced on October 13 that the Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship is requesting pre-applications for targeted watershed demonstration projects focused on water quality.
Potential projects have until November 17, 2014 to submit a pre-application. Project pre-application guidance, which includes a map of priority watersheds, can be found on the department's website under "Hot Topics." Or it can be requested by contacting the state ag department's Division of Soil Conservation at 515-281-5851.
"This round of funding will focus on supporting innovative projects that will work with a broad coalition of stakeholders to have a positive impact on water quality," Northey said. "These new projects will build upon the 13 demonstration projects currently underway that are working with farmers to implement and then demonstrate how different practices can help improve water quality."
Innovative approaches should be emphasis for new projects
The 13 existing projects represent a commitment of just over $6 million by the department with nearly 70 partners and numerous landowners leveraging in excess of $10 million to conduct outreach and demonstration activities and install conservation practices.
Projects must be within the nine large priority watersheds that have been identified by the Iowa Water Resources Coordinating Council (WRCC). The nine priority watersheds are the Floyd, West Nishnabotna, East Nishnabotna, North Raccoon, Boone, South Skunk, Skunk, Middle Cedar, and Turkey.
These nine large watersheds, also known as HUC8 watersheds, include 429 subwatersheds, or HUC12 watersheds. Applications will be accepted for projects focused on a single subwatershed within the priority watersheds, or for projects that group multiple subwatersheds into a single application.
SWCD's and other non-government groups are eligible to apply
Projects will include concentrated efforts to demonstrate conservation practices paired with strong outreach/education components to disseminate information on these practices to promote increased awareness and adoption of available practices and technologies for achieving reductions in nutrient loads to surface waters. Successful projects will serve as local and regional hubs for demonstrating practices and providing practice information to farmers, peer networks, and local communities.
Soil and Water Conservation Districts, watershed groups and other non-governmental organizations are eligible to submit applications. Applicants will be able to seek up to three years of funding for a project, with the possibility of future extensions depending on funding availability and project performance.
The maximum five-page pre-application must be submitted by 5 p.m. on Monday, November 17, 2014. Pre-applications selected to submit a full application will be notified by December 1, 2014 and the full applications will be due on February 2, 2015. Projects selected to receive funding will be announced by the end of February. More information can be found in the project pre-application guidance found at www.iowaagriculture.gov/ under "Hot Topics."