February 6, 2017

Conservation Infrastructure Initiative

Improving Conservation Infrastructure Requires Collaboration, Continuous Improvement & Sustained Effort

Info-graphic showing how Iowa's water quality challenge represents an economic growth opportunity

Our water quality challenge represents an economic development opportunity. Iowa’s 88,000 farmers managing 23M acres on 12 different major soil types are facing severe weather events and water quality challenges. The science-based Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy offers a suite of practices that can help reduce phosphorus and nitrate in water. The estimated opportunity for two of these practices – cover crops and bioreactors – is representative of other possibilities for economic growth and innovation as we continue working toward improved water quality. 

Cover crops icon

Solution: Cover Crops

Need: 12-17M acres

Current status: ~500K acres

Future opportunities:

  • 300,000 acres of seed production
  • 300 aerial seed applicators
  • Special planters
  • Seed cleaners
  • 17,000 semis to transport seed

Expertise necessary:

  • Agronomists
  • More research

Bioreactor icon

Solution: Bioreactors*

Need: 100,000 - 140,000 across state

Current status:  ~60 completed

Future opportunities:

  • Enough wood chips to fill 109,000 rail train cars, which would equal the distance from Des Moines to Boston
  • ~120,000 site plans
  • ~240,000 site investigations
  • ~180,000 water control structures

Expertise necessary:

  • Engineering and soil science
  • Construction contractors
  • Monitoring/Data interpretation
  • Management/Maintenance

*Saturated buffers may be used at some locations

Iowa's Water Quality Challenge Represents an Economic Development Opportunity

Below is a complete list of participating partners of Conservation Infrastructure.

Agri Drain Corporation

Agribusiness Association of Iowa

USDA Agricultural Research Service

Agriculture’s Clean Water Alliance



Bolton & Menk

City of Cedar Rapids

Conservation Districts of Iowa

Central Valley Ag Co-op

Iowa Drainage District Association

DuPont Pioneer

Eco Engineers

Ecosytems Services Exchange

Farm Nutrients


Hagie Manufacturing

Heartland Co-op

Houston Engineering, Inc.

Iowa Cattlemen’s Association

Iowa Corn Growers Association

Iowa Department of Agriculture and
Land Stewardship

Iowa Department of Natural Resources

Iowa Economic Development Authority

Iowa Farm Bureau Federation

Iowa Finance Authority

Iowa League of Cities

Iowa Pork Producers Association

Iowa Poultry Association and Iowa Egg Council

Iowa Soybean Association

Iowa State Dairy Association

Iowa State University

Iowa Turkey Federation

IS Group

Jacobson-Westergard & Associates

La Crosse Seed

Land Improvement Contractors Association

Mosaic Company

Natural Resources Conservation Service

Peoples Company

Pheasants Forever

Practical Farmers of Iowa


The Fertilizer Institute

The Nature Conservancy

U.S. Geological Survey

United Suppliers

University of Iowa

Verdesian Life Sciences



Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship green and yellow iconIowa Agriculture Water Alliance green and blue logo