Members of Agriculture's Clean Water Alliance (ACWA), a group of ag co-ops and fertilizer dealers primarily located in central and western Iowa, have agreed to the Code of Practice for 2014. That is a set of guidelines for farmers and fertilizer dealers to follow for consistent and responsible application of fertilizer and other crop nutrients.
The organization of fertilizer dealers and others involved in agriculture in the Raccoon River watershed and other areas of western Iowa, reached that decision during a recent meeting of ACWA.
"The Code of Practice is essential to ensuring consistent use of best management practices as we move into the fall nutrient application season," says Dave Coppess, executive vice-president of sales and marketing at Heartland Coop and vice-president of the ACWA. "It is important that we all are on the same page and that we all agree on how and when we will apply nutrients in a way that is best for the environment and for the farmer."
"Don't go until it is 50 or below" is fall anhydrous guideline
The ACWA Code of Practice is a formal agreement among the fertilizer retailers stating they will delay fall anhydrous applications without a nitrification inhibitor until soil temperatures are 50 degrees F and trending lower. ACWA members use the county soil temperature and forecast maps compiled by Iowa State University Extension, available online, as a reference point for soil temperatures.
"Accountability is a key benefit and concern of ACWA," says Roger Wolf, ACWA executive director. "It is important that all members act responsibility and the Code of Practice is just one way that they hold each other responsible for their actions. It also demonstrates that the ag supply chain can voluntarily align with the public mission programs such as the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy." The Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy is a science-based initiative that seeks to reduce nitrate and phosphorous loads in Iowa waterways by 45% from point and nonpoint sources.
Farmers across Iowa need to adopt nutrient management strategy
ACWA encourages farmers across Iowa to adopt nutrient management enhancements to maximize nutrient use efficiency and to help protect the watershed's water quality. Nutrient management enhancements include use of nitrogen stabilizers, slow release fertilizers, incorporation or injection, soil nitrate testing and other technologies that minimize loss of nitrogen to surface or ground water sources. Special USDA/NRCS Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) cost-share funds are available for eligible farmers in these areas.
Other conservation practices to reduce nitrate flow from tile systems include tile line denitrification bioreactors, constructed wetlands, conservation stream buffers and fall cover cropping systems. More information on these targeted watershed initiatives is available at www.acwa-rrws.org.
"Accurate fertilizer application is always important to farmers and in this time of softening grain prices it is definitely top of mind," says Coppess. "The Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy is now one year old and the agriculture community remains committed to implementing these practices to further the strategy and protect water quality." For more information about ACWA also visit www.acwa-rrws.org.