Don Swanson

Ottumwa, Iowa

Don farms near Ottumwa in southeast Iowa with his wife, Pat, and family. He and his wife also own Son Risk Management, a crop insurance agency they started in Ottumwa in 2002. The 6th generation to farm their ground, the Swansons feel strongly in protecting it for the next six generations to come.

Q&A

What are you doing to practice and promote soil and water quality?

We bundle a lot of projects of cover crops with tile outlet terraces. I think the cover crops are a great benefit to keep the dirt out of the terraces to slow down the erosion. We've built ponds and fenced-off ponds to keep the cows out of the ponds and streams. We've practiced no-till for years, conservation tillage, cover crops and a lot of our operation with our cow-calf operation is rotational grazing and crop rotation. Hence, a significant part of our farm is grass at any time, permanent cover.

What needs for soil health and water quality do you see in your region/county?

It's a combination of education, reduced tillage and showing that conservation does work. Keeping the soil alive through cover crops or grazing practices controls erosion.

What could be done with more public funding for soil and water quality?

I think if more funding were available, we'd do bigger projects. We'd leverage into the watersheds. We'd maybe try to build bigger grade stream structures to benefit more acres with those dollars and use a combination of more projects.