April Hemmes




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

On my family's century farm I approach water and soil quality in many different ways. I have been no-tilling my soybeans for over 20 years. I also do many edge of field practices with native prairie grasses and pollinators. I also have a wetlands in one of my low-lying fields that I could never get to drain. For the past six years I have started seeding cover crops and that has really worked well to hold in the soil and keep more moisture in the ground through the drought. I variable rate all of my fertilizer and have done some split applied nitrogen.

What is being done in your county to support soil and water quality?

Franklin County has always been a leader in minimum and no till practices. There are more and more cover crop acres around too. I recently had a salesman say to me, "when someone starts cover crops, it seems like they keep doing it!" I have been a soil and water commissioner for almost thirty years now! It's a long time but we have accomplished many things through the years. Started many people conserving soil in the Beeds Lake State Park Watershed. Have participated in many grants along the way and shared our concerns about state funding with the politicians at the State House. We always have more projects than money, so it shows that farmers in the area see the need for conservation practices.

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

There are many practices that are out of reach for farmers to do economically. They need the expertise to design and build practices. Currently our county does not have any technicians so many things will not be able to be built. Also, incentivizing practices, such as cover crops, helped me start using them. These programs are important so farmers can begin to manage cover crops and see how it can really improve their soil.

Questions or Comments?

Contact: Aaron Putze

1255 SW Prairie Trail Pkwy, Ankeny, IA 50023