Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey earlier this week announced funds are available for water quality projects focused on implementing and demonstrating innovative delivery of conservation farming practices to protect water quality. Funding is available statewide, but projects in the nine priority watersheds identified by the state's Water Resources Coordinating Council will receive priority consideration.
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.
Focus on practices identified in Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy
Projects should encourage adoption of practices that improve water quality while conducting education and outreach efforts that promote broader adoption by farmers. Applications should focus on practices identified in the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy that have the greatest impact on reducing nutrient loss, such as bioreactors, saturated buffers, wetlands, buffer strips and cover crops.
"We continue to look for new opportunities to engage even more farmers in ongoing water quality efforts," says Northey. "These funds are focused on supporting projects that will put the water quality practices included in the Nutrient Reduction Strategy on the ground in combination with outreach activities to farmers and landowners in their area to show how these practices might fit on their farm."
Deadline to apply is April 10, 2015. Application guidance can be found on the Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship website under "Hot Topics." Or applications and information can be requested by contacting the department's Division of Soil Conservation at 515-281-5851.
Projects should include concentrated efforts to demonstrate conservation practices paired with strong outreach components to circulate information on these practices and promote increased awareness and adoption of available practices and technologies to reduce nutrient loads to surface waters. Successful projects will serve as local and regional hubs for demonstrating conservation practices and providing information to other farmers and/or landowners.
Adjusting fertilizer application rates, timing can't do the job alone
"The science assessment in the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy shows that adjusting fertilizer rates and timing alone won't achieve our ambitious water quality goals. We need to also incorporate broader adoption of innovative practices focused on improving water quality. Some of the practices are quite new to many farmers, and these projects will help educate farmers and encourage them to consider how they could use the practices on their farm," Northey says.
Soil and Water Conservation Districts, watershed groups and other non-governmental organizations are eligible to submit applications for this funding. 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. Again, the deadline is April 10 to apply.
The announcement of projects selected to receive funding will take place by the end of April, with June 1 as the scheduled start date for the projects. More information can be found in the project pre-application guidance found at IowaAgriculture.gov under "Hot Topics."