Iowa Ag Department Boosts Water Quality Improvement Efforts

10:49AM Feb 14, 2020
( Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship )

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig announced that the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship has hired three additional field staff to expedite the implementation of soil conservation and water quality practices across the state, according to a department release. The watershed coordinators will work in the Floyd, Middle Cedar and North Raccoon River watersheds — the top priority areas identified in the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy. They will provide technical support to local farmers, landowners and communities who choose to add conservation practices that reduce phosphorus and nitrogen losses, the release says.  

“We’re engaging more farmers and landowners than ever before, and the Department is committed to supporting their efforts with local resources,” said Secretary Naig in the release. “These new coordinators will build upon successful projects happening in these watersheds and help accelerate the adoption of practices that benefit their communities and downstream.  

Additional funding let the department add staff to support the Water Quality Initiative (WQI) demonstration projects happening in priority watersheds. Rose Danaher is assigned to the Middle Cedar River watershed and will work out of the Benton County Soil and Water Conservation District office in Vinton. Colton Meyer will work in the Floyd River watershed and be stationed in Orange City, and Carrie Tolzin will serve the North Raccoon River watershed and be based in Storm Lake, the release explains. These new hires join three watershed coordinators who are currently employed by the department.

According to the release, the investment in local watershed coordinators has shown significant and immediate results.

Working with private partners and field staff, the watershed coordinators have helped double the number of cover crop acres planted in the Miller Creek area, part of the Middle Cedar River watershed, and Headwaters of the North Raccoon watersheds.

Field staff also expedited the adoption of edge-of-field practices over the last 18 months. They helped farmers and landowners complete multiple saturated buffer and bioreactor projects and aim for 42 more to be built in the next two years.

There are state and federal funding, planning and technical resources available to help farmers, landowners and communities with conservation projects, the release says. Individuals and community groups who want to implement practices can contact their county’s Soil and Water Conservation District office for help getting started.

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