Steve is from Eldora.
What are you doing to practice and promote soil and water quality?
We combine a settling basin, riparian and enhanced oxbows. I'm putting them in right now. The riparian that we're doing right now, some of it is CRP on the Iowa River. My family's grown up on the Iowa River, and we feel like it's probably the most significant natural resource we've got — so we want to protect that. So we put it into CRP, and I filled in some of the erosion spots, and we've been very happy. We put in a pollinator mix, and we're getting good butterflies and bees, and good pollination there.
What needs for soil health and water quality do you see in your region/county?
I think the cheapest fix is the dials on the spreading equipment. And even if you could turn down the dials 10% or 15%, that's your cheapest cost. The excess nutrient is running pretty high. Some estimates are about 60% overburdened on the soils in Hardin County right now. And if that's anywhere close to accurate, that's a lot of cost. That's a lot of nutrients going to waste, and we either need to take care of it with nutrient fixers that would grow bigger crops, more crops or more ancillary network that would settle it out or evaporate to nitrogen. We have to be smart and utilize what we know on how to get rid of it.
What could be done with more public funding for soil and water quality?
We should incentivize the landowners to adopt new hybrids that would utilize more nutrients. If you can take care of it in the field, it's at least 1/10 of the cost. I also think we should change the topography and make these streams more of a vascular network so that the water has to work a little harder to get to the stream, river or lake. By working a little harder, you get more nitrogen evaporation and more settling of the phosphorus, and there's a couple of ways to address it. But I think a vascular network versus a single stream with a straight running channel would be key.