What are you doing to practice and promote soil and water quality?
On my 80-acre century farm in Polk County, Iowa, we have in-field (no-till & cover crops) and edge-of-field (three terraces, three prairie strips, a waterway, 50-foot stream buffer strips, a wood-chip bioreactor and three saturated buffers). I currently have twelve acres of perennial crops (alfalfa and kernza) and fifty-three acres of row crops. All of these practices together reduce erosion, increase water infiltration, and decrease excess nutrients from leaving my farm.
What is being done in your county to support soil and water quality?
The Polk County NRCS office in Ankeny supports a number of federal and state cost-share programs such as EQIP and WQI that help landowners and farmers pay for cover cropping and other conservation practices. As a Polk County Soil and Water Conservation District commissioner I help to advance conservation in my county. I and others also hold field days on our farms with organizations such as Iowa Learning Farms, IAWA, and Practical Farmers of Iowa. I also work with Iowa State University to research and advance edge-of-field practices including prairie strips.
What could be done with more public funding for soil and water quality?
Additional conservation cost-share programs will bring us more in-field and edge-of-field practices in Iowa, but our weakness is verification. While we can show that our individual drainage tile water is less polluted with conservation practices, we cannot show that at the watershed scale. Therefore, we need comprehensive water quality testing and monitoring of topsoil loss on a county-wide scale. This testing should be the concern of the DNR, IDALS, and the Department of Public Health in Iowa.