USDA ramps up support for prairie strips

By Dan Looker ANKENY, Iowa (IAWA) – The USDA offers a cornucopia of conservation programs through its Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Farm Service Agency (FSA) – but using them for planting prairie strips has been complicated and sometimes difficult for farmers. The FSA’s Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) started in the 1980s to take whole[…]

The STRIPS Project – A brief history

By Dan Looker ANKENY, Iowa (IAWA) – In 2007, a group of Iowa State University researchers started testing the concept of mixing the advantages of tallgrass prairie with row crops, an effort they dubbed “Science-based Trials of Rowcrops Integrated with Prairie Strips,” or STRIPS. One advantage prairie plants have is their roots, which reach up to[…]

Prairie fuel – A new market for prairie hay

By Dan Looker ANKENY, Iowa (IAWA) – Iowa farmers who plant prairie strips may soon have a new source of revenue for harvesting them. This spring, St. Louis-based Roeslein Alternative Energy finalized an $80-million USDA contract under the department’s Climate Smart Commodities program, which will allow the company to compensate farmers who harvest prairie hay. That[…]

Polk County Accelerates Water Quality Efforts on Central Iowa Farms

More landowners sign up for nitrate filtration practices in farm fields thanks to a visionary new public-private partnership approach that is turnkey and systems-based By Kurt Lawton Creating a scalable system that can move the needle faster to reduce nitrate in Polk County watersheds began by rethinking the entire process of marketing and delivery of[…]

Multiple Stakeholders Share Approaches for Source Water Protection

The Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance (IAWA) Advisory Council recently met and tackled the important topic of source water protection. Source water refers to sources of water (such as rivers, streams, lakes, reservoirs, springs, and groundwater) that provide water to public drinking water supplies and private wells. Cities and agencies are increasingly incorporating source water protection[…]

Iowa Farmers Rely on Cover Crops to Improve Prevent Plant Acres

By Kurt Lawton The calendar can’t turn fast enough this year for farmers, many who endured both a soggy #Plant 19 and a wet, snowy #Harvest19, as Twitter posts showcased. Late snow runoff and frequent big storms drenched the Midwest during planting season, which idled 11.4 million acres of corn and 4.4 million acres of[…]

Improving Iowa’s Water Quality: 5 Things You Need to Know

Water quality is an important issue in Iowa. At the Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance (IAWA), our goal is to increase farmer-led conservation efforts. Together with landowners, partner organizations, and the private sector, we are doing just that. Learn more about five water quality initiatives that are playing a major role in improved water quality across[…]

Unique Approach for Landowner Outreach – Letters from Lee Gravel

By: Sarah Feehan, IAWA Communications Intern The workplace of the North Raccoon watershed implementation coordinator, Lee Gravel, is designed to accommodate ergonomics for computer work. As a result, Gravel’s standing desk occupies much of his actual “desk” area and handwriting letters can prove difficult. With his ballpoint pen in hand, Gravel leaves his normal work[…]

Iowa Delegation Aims for Waves of Change for Water Quality

By: Sarah Feehan The Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance (IAWA) and the Iowa Soybean Association will soon lead their third Iowa delegation to the upcoming One Water Summit, convened by the U.S. Water Alliance. Last year, the diverse Iowa delegation included Lee Gravel, watershed coordinator for the Headwaters of the North Raccoon Water Quality Improvement Project[…]