Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey on December 6 announced that eight watershed demonstration projects have been selected to receive $4.1 million in funding through the Iowa water quality initiative over the next three years. In addition to the state funds, the eight projects will provide over $8 million in matching funds to support water quality improvement efforts.
"We were extremely pleased by the number of high quality applications and are excited for these projects to get started," Northey says. "These watershed demonstration projects will play an extremely important role in demonstrating water quality practices and encouraging additional farmer adoption so we can continue to make water quality improvements across the state."
The eight projects are within the large priority watersheds prioritized by the Iowa Water Resources Coordinating Council or WRCC, which include the Floyd, Boone, South Skunk, Skunk, Middle Cedar and Turkey River watersheds.
These projects will demonstrate the effectiveness of a number of different kinds of conservation and water quality improvement practices
The demonstration watersheds selected cover 605,774 acres. The projects will implement and demonstrate the effectiveness and adaptability of a host of conservation practices including, but not limited to: cover crops, nutrient management, wetlands, terraces, bioreactors, buffer strips, no-till, strip-till, nitrogen inhibitors, extended rotations, conservation cover, drainage water management and manure management.
More than 30 partners from agriculture organizations, institutions of higher education, private industry, the local, state and federal government, and others, are working together on these projects with the local Soil and Water Conservation Districts or SWCDs serving as the project leaders.
The Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship received a total of seventeen demonstration project applications. All were reviewed by a committee including representatives from the Department of Ag, Iowa State University, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, University of Northern Iowa, and the University of Iowa. The committee made recommendations that were used by the Iowa Department of Agriculture in selecting the projects to be funded.~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~
Additional rounds of funding for new watershed demonstration projects are expected next year. A short summary of each of the initial eight projects follows here:
Benton/Tama Nutrient Reduction Demonstration Project
Grant award: $468,000
Total project: $747,000
Project leaders: Benton SWCD
Partners: Tama SWCD, DuPont Pioneer, Iowa State University Extension, Benton County Extension Service, Iowa Soybean Association, Practical Farmers of Iowa, Iowa Learning Farms, Iowa Farm Bureau, USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service
Project Details: This project will partner with multiple organizations to demonstrate a host of nutrient reduction practices on cropland devoted to seed corn production. Seed corn acres have largely been neglected in traditional conservation practice implementation. Through the use of conservation practice demonstrations, field trials, and field days the project intends to prove the adaptability of these practices and how they can be translated across seed corn production industry wide.
Boone River Watershed Nutrient Management Initiative
Grant award: $1,009,803
Total project: $1,853,103
Project leaders: Wright SWCD
Partners: The Nature Conservancy, Iowa Soybean Association, Kossuth SWCD, Humboldt SWCD, USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service, Agriculture's Clean Water Alliance, Hagie Manufacturing, The Conservation Fund, North Central Cooperative, Iowa State University Extension
Details: The Wright Soil and Water Conservation District has assembled a broad group of partners to help implement a demonstration project in the designated watersheds. Public and private groups are committed to creating at project that demonstrates the practices and approaches outlined in the Nutrient Reduction Strategy. The foundation of the project will be to develop and promote "Farmer Champions" as advocates of implementing conservation practices by providing an example for others to follow.
Central Turkey River Nutrient Reduction Demonstration Project
Grant award: $498,000
Total project: $5,529,924
Project leaders: Winneshiek SWCD
Partners: Turkey River Watershed Management Authority
Details: The Winneshiek SWCD takes a grassroots, producer to producer interactive approach to marketing targeted watershed projects that will help demonstrate the ability of practices to improve water quality while maintaining productivity. With Northeast Iowa Community College as a centralized location in the project area, the college will serve as a hub to bring together an education and community wide focus to improving water quality.~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~
Demonstration of Targeted Nutrient Reduction Systems for Clayton County
Grant award: $207,000
Total project: $333,000
Project leaders: Clayton SWCD
Details: The Clayton SWCD will demonstrate a combined approach of multiple practices within the targeted watersheds through peer to peer landowner interaction to help spread information and ultimately adoption. This basis of understanding how land use decisions affect the various pathways of nutrient loss will help motivate farmers throughout the area to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus losses from their farms.
Miller Creek Water Quality Improvement Project
Grant award: $499,530
Total project: $751,501
Project leaders: Black Hawk SWCD
Partners: Iowa Soybean Association, BMC Aggregates, Tama SWCD, Black Hawk County, USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service
Details: The Miller Creek Water Quality Improvement Project addresses the challenge of improving water quality by creating a demonstration watershed so producers within and around the region can learn about the installation and effectiveness of conservation practices to help foster adoption on their farms. The project seeks to broaden awareness of nutrient loading issues and solutions, engage private sector partners, foster adoption of in-field, edge-of-field, and off-field practices, and to reduce nutrient loss in the watershed.
Van Zante Creek Water Quality Improvement Project
Grant award: $639,839
Total project: $1,534,839
Project leaders: Marion SWCD
Partners: Jasper SWCD, Pathfinders RC&D, Iowa Soybean Association, USDA Farm Service Agency, USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service
Details: The Van Zante Creek Water Quality Improvement Project is coordinating with stakeholders including: farmers, landowners, agricultural service providers, agronomists and contractors to provide a collaborative effort to reduce nutrient loss. Using the Nutrient Reduction Strategy, the project will assess a baseline for producers and develop adaptive steps to achieving reductions in nitrogen and phosphorus loads to the stream on a farm by farm basis.
West Branch of the Floyd River Water Quality Initiative
Grant award: $360,000
Total project: $608,000
Project leaders: Sioux SWCD
Partners: Farmers Coop Society, Dordt College Agriculture Stewardship Center, Iowa State University Extension, Iowa Pork Producers Association, Iowa Farm Bureau, USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~
Details: The West Branch of the Floyd River Water Quality Initiative will showcase nutrient reduction practices with a special emphasis upon accelerating the adoption across a broad cross-section of the agricultural community. The project engages both public and private agricultural entities to foster adoption of a variety of conservation practices. This watershed boasts the largest concentration of livestock production in the state. The practices outlined will help address livestock related concerns by comparing conventional practices to implemented conservation practices to increase awareness and foster adoption.
West Fork Crooked Creek Water Quality and Soil Health Initiative
Grant award: $484,250
Total project: $866,800
Project leaders: Washington SWCD
Partners: Keokuk SWCD, USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service, Iowa State University Extension
Details: The West Fork Crooked Creek Water Quality and Soil Health Initiative will demonstrate and accelerate the adoption of conservation practices that have been proven to be most effective in reducing nitrate-N and phosphorus in streams. This project will build upon work completed in the one portion of the designated watersheds and demonstrate the effectiveness and adaptability throughout the larger project area.