Northeast Iowa water quality project advances toward next phase

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig recently announced that a successful Water Quality Initiative demonstration project in northeast Iowa is expanding into a new phase, with a specific focus on edge-of-field conservation practices.

Previous WQI projects in the Central Turkey River Watershed, which have been in place since 2014, have generated positive results through the seeding of over 43,700 acres of cover crops since the start of the project. Cover crop utilization, an effective in-field conservation practice, will continue to be emphasized. During the next phase, this project will include an added focus on the installation of edge-of-field practices such as saturated buffers, bioreactors and wetlands, three practices which help to filter the water before it enters our waterways. Grade stabilization structures could also be constructed, depending on the landscape.

“Because of excellent leadership from local partners and engagement from participating farmers and landowners, this Northeast Iowa water quality project continues to be a success. As we advance toward the next stage, we will further accelerate our conservation progress by incorporating proven edge-of-field practices,” said Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig. “We need even more farmers and landowners to join us, because adding more practices will keep the positive momentum moving toward our Nutrient Reduction Strategy goals.”

Through the WQI, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship is investing approximately $281,871 on this project. Other partners on the project include the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Northeast Iowa Community College, Northeast Iowa Dairy Foundation, Farmers Union Cooperative, Chickasaw County Soil and Water Conservation District, Fayette County Soil and Water Conservation District, Howard County Soil and Water Conservation District, Winneshiek County Soil and Water Conservation District and the Winneshiek County Conservation Board. The project agreement is in place through 2026.