On July 8 the Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship announced $1.4 million in cost-share funds were being made available statewide July 17 to help farmers install new nutrient reduction practices. Farmers wasted no time applying. All of the $1.4 million was obligated in less than five business days. Practices eligible for this cost-share funding are cover crops, no-till/strip till, or using a nitrification inhibitor when applying fall fertilizer.
"The tremendous response to this cost-sharing shows once again that farmers are committed to using voluntary, science-based conservation practices to continue to improve water quality," says Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey. "In less than one week Iowa farmers committed to matching the state investment, so a total of $2.8 million in new water quality practices will be going on the ground this fall."
Cost share is for first-time conservation practices
IDALS received applications covering 59,883 acres from 597 different farmers seeking to participate in the program. That includes 54,679 acres of cover crops, 2,531 acres of nitrification inhibitor, 1,656 acres of no-till and 1,015 acres of strip till. Farmers in 90 of the 100 Soil & Water Conservation Districts across the state received funding.
Only farmers who are not already using the conservation practice are eligible to apply for the funding. Also, this cost-share money is only available on up to 160 acres. The cost-share rate for cover crops is $25 per acre and $10 an acre for farmers trying no-till or strip till. Farmers using a nitrapyrin nitrification inhibitor for fall fertilizer can receive $3 per acre.
Farmers are encouraged to see if other money is available
"Although this particular program's cost-share funding is already spoken for, farmers are encouraged to still reach out to their local Soil and Water Conservation District office and ask if there is other cost-share money or financial assistance available," says Northey. "Other incentive programs may be available to help implement these voluntary, science-based water quality practices."
The Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship received $4.4 million from the state legislature for the Iowa Water Quality Initiative for fiscal 2015 -- the fiscal year which began July 1, 2014. These funds allow IDALS to encourage broad adoption of water quality practices through the use of statewide cost-share assistance, as well as by funding more intensive work in targeted watersheds.
What happened this year is a repeat of a year ago
Last year in just two weeks over 1,000 farmers signed up for cost-share funding to help implement new nutrient reduction practices on 100,000 acres. The state provided $2.8 million in cost-share funding in 2013 to help farmers try a water quality practice for the first time and Iowa farmers provided at least another $2.8 million to support these water quality practices. It was a cost-share matching program last year, just like it is this year.
Visit www.cleanwateriowa.org to learn more about voluntary, science-based practices that can be implemented on farms and in cities to improve water quality. Iowans can also follow @CleanWaterIowa on Twitter or "like" the page on Facebook to receive updates and other information about the ongoing Iowa water quality initiative.