State conservationist Jay Mar in late April announced additional funding for an initiative to improve water quality in four selected Iowa watersheds. Mar, who heads USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service in Iowa, says NRCS will make financial assistance available this year to help farmers and forestland owners install conservation practices that manage nutrients, pathogens and sediments. Funding comes through the agency's National Water Quality Initiative, or NWQI. Iowa's NWQI watersheds include:
* Badger Creek (sections of Madison, Dallas and Warren counties)
* Lost Branch-Chariton River (sections of Wayne and Lucas counties)
* Lower South Fork Chariton River (sections of Appanoose and Wayne counties)
* Wall Lake Inlet/Black Hawk Lake (sections of Sac and Carroll counties)
NRCS has worked closely with partnering conservation groups to select the priority watersheds. State agencies, key partners and technical experts chose the four watersheds, where on-farm conservation investments have the best chance to improve water quality. Eligible farmers will receive assistance for installing practices such as nutrient management, cover crops, conservation cropping systems, filter strips, terraces, and in some cases, edge-of-field water quality monitoring.
Mar says NRCS is also piloting its new Water Quality Index for Agricultural Runoff through this water quality initiative. "That tool will help landowners determine how alternative conservation systems will impact water quality improvement," he adds.
Additionally, state water quality agencies and other partners will do instream and watershed-level monitoring to track water quality improvements in many of the project watersheds.
NRCS accepts applications for financial assistance on a continuous basis throughout the year. Visit your local NRCS office for more information or go online.
IFBF launches "Conservation Counts" website
In other conservation news, the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation has launched a new website called "Conservation Counts." Its purpose is to provide facts on the progress of voluntary conservation efforts in Iowa. The site will be a resource to show how farmers' voluntary efforts are continually improving land and water in Iowa.
The site provides brief online tours of today's farms so viewers can see firsthand the diverse conservation practices farmers are using and the progress that statewide voluntary measures have brought in the last 30 years. In addition, the site will show graphics of conservation progress, articles about conservation success and links to Iowa Minute clips that are about conservation progress. You can access the IFBF Conservation Counts site.