Funds are available to help farmers install practices focused on protecting water quality. Practices eligible for this cost-share funding are cover crops, no-till or strip till, or use of a nitrification inhibitor when applying fertilizer. Rate for first-time users of cover crops is $25 per acre; no-till or strip till are eligible for $10 per acre; and farmers using a nitrapyrin nitrification inhibitor when applying fall fertilizer can receive $3 per acre. Farmers are eligible for cost share on up to 160 acres.
First-time users who apply by July 28 will be the first applications funded. First-time users applying after July 28 will still receive priority consideration. Funds will also be made available to farmers who’ve used cover crops in the past, and their cost-share assistance is $15 per acre.
Try new practice to protect water quality
“We already have $1.8 million in applications from more than 800 farmers interested in trying a new practice on their farm to better protect water quality,” says Bill Northey, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture. “However, we do have some funds available, both for first-time users and those interested in trying cover crops again. I hope interested farmers will contact their local Soil and Water Conservation District soon to learn more about the assistance that is available.”
Farmers are also encouraged to visit their local Soil and Water Conservation District office to inquire about additional opportunities for cost-share funding through other programs offered. The cost-share assistance was announced May 11. Since then, the governor has signed into law $10.6 million to support the Iowa Water Quality Initiative.
In the four years this statewide program has been available, over 4,800 farmers, with participants in each of Iowa’s 99 counties, have put in nutrient reduction practices on more than 455,000 acres. The state provided about $9.3 million in cost-share funding to help farmers try a water quality practice, and Iowa farmers provided more than $9.3 million of their own resources to support these water quality practices.
Background on Iowa Water Quality Initiative
The Iowa Water Quality Initiative was established in 2013 to help implement the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy, a collaborative research-based approach to achieve a 45% reduction in nitrogen and phosphorus losses to state waters. The strategy brings together both point sources, such as municipal wastewater treatment plants and industrial facilities, and nonpoint sources, including farm fields and urban stormwater runoff, to address these issues.
The initiative seeks to harness the collective ability of both private and public resources and organizations to deliver a clear and consistent message to stakeholders to reduce nutrient loss and improve water quality.
Iowa has 56 water quality demo projects
In addition to the statewide cost-share funding, there are 56 existing demonstration projects located across the state to help implement and demonstrate water quality practices through the initiative. This includes 15 targeted watershed projects, seven projects focused on expanding the use and innovative delivery of water quality practices and 34 urban water quality demonstration projects. More than 220 organizations are participating in these projects. These partners will provide $32.3 million to go with over $21.7 million in state funding going to these projects.
More than $340 million in state and federal funds have been directed to programs with water quality benefits in Iowa last year. This total doesn’t include the cost-share amount that farmers pay to match state and federal programs and funds spent to build practices without government assistance.
Source: Iowa Department. of Agriculture and Land Stewardship