Zach TimmMonticello, Iowa
Zach farms with his parents by Monticello and also works for Dubuque County as a conservation agronomist.
What are you doing to practice and promote soil and water quality?
Reducing tillage reduces your labor. We do a lot with cover crops as far as chopping them for our cattle. We also graze it; we also use it for weed suppression. There's a lot of benefits. Sometimes, the days you gain in the field where you get stuff done because it drains water faster and holds the soil better. I'd say that's almost worth it right there. But there's a lot of different opinions. Every operation's different, so you need to do what's best for your operation.
What needs for soil health and water quality do you see in your region/county?
I think flooding is a considerable risk for a lot of our communities. Cedar Rapids had big floods in the past that have caused millions of dollars worth of damage. In Dubuque, we just got a WFPO grant that we work on flood mitigation. Soil health helps to slow down the water; it helps take in more water. So it addresses flooding. It's many small hammers working to produce a bigger blow or minimize some of the effects we're having.
What could be done with more public funding for soil and water quality?
We need to create more awareness about initiatives like the Soil and Water Outcomes Fund. I've had a lot of farmers become very flexible once they hear about it. It gets them thinking about what they can do in the future. They often say, "Well, I'm tired of doing corn and soybeans all the time; let's try something else. Let's maybe do a perennial, like alfalfa or something if it works." If there's any way that they can make it work, they're like, "Oh, I could get paid to change the use of my land." Then it can tip the edge of the iceberg a little bit.