USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service will provide $8.4 million for conservation and management practices that prevent, control and trap nutrient runoff from agricultural land in 18 Iowa project areas within the Mississippi River Basin. Iowa is one of 12 states participating in the Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative. Funding is for fiscal year 2011 contracts. USDA made this announcement November 30, 2010.
"Through these contracts producers will implement a system of conservation practices that will control soil erosion, improve soil quality, and provide wildlife habitat," says Richard Sims, state conservationist for NRCS in Iowa. "These local water quality improvements will have positive impacts further downstream, throughout the Mississippi River Basin."
Project watersheds for MRBI funding are in 15 counties in Iowa
MRBI project area watersheds are located in the following counties: Buena Vista, Clayton, Dallas, Delaware, Dubuque, Floyd, Greene, Guthrie, Hamilton, Jackson, Jones, Mitchell, Wayne, Webster and Wright.
Under MRBI, NRCS will provide up to $43 million in financial assistance through conservation programs to support more than 70 existing projects in the following states: Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Minnesota, Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee and Wisconsin. Partner organizations participating in the initiative will contribute additional financial resources.
The MRBI will assist NRCS and its conservation partners in expanding their capacity to improve water quality and treat other natural resource concerns throughout the Mississippi River basin.
Focus on improving water quality by using soil saving practices
In addition to avoiding, controlling and trapping nutrient runoff, participating farmers and landowners voluntarily implement conservation practices that improve wildlife habitat; restore wetlands; and maintain agricultural productivity. These conservation practices are carried out in a site-specific manner to create a system that addresses natural resource concerns and fits within the operational needs of the farm.
Key conservation practices include nutrient management, conservation crop rotation and residue and tillage management. Farmers and landowners can also use other conservation practices such as restoring wetlands, planting trees along streams to filter nutrients out of water draining off the farm, and drainage water management. Participants can also use financial assistance to install edge-of-field monitoring systems in specific locations within the selected watersheds.
NRCS is celebrating 75 years of helping people help the land in 2010. Since 1935, the NRCS conservation delivery system has advanced a unique partnership with state and local governments and private landowners delivering conservation based on specific, local conservation needs, while accommodating state and national interests.