For conservation practices to be more widely adopted, there has to be infrastructure and businesses to support the scale up. The mission of the Conservation Infrastructure initiative was to identify barriers, create solutions, and increase private sector engagement to achieve the goals of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy.
For example, the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy (NRS) calls for 12 to 17 million acres of cover crops. Currently there is not enough cover crop seed produced in all of the US to meet Iowa’s future demand. There’s also not enough seed cleaning businesses. Conservation Infrastructure identified that barrier first, then worked to increase demand for these businesses. Increased demand for conservation practices leads to job creation, and entrepreneurial and economic development opportunities. It also signals to businesses that there are financially lucrative, long-term opportunities in conservation related business lines. Conservation Infrastructure was co-led by IAWA and the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and engaged more than 100 partner organizations.
While this initiative is now complete, the effects of its research and recommendations will continue on for many years. In 2023, Conservation Infrastructure will be incorporated into the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy which is the guiding document for the entire state’s efforts on water quality.