Clean, safe water is important to all living things.
Consequently, it is very good news that a voluntary water quality initiative launched by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship is gaining strong support from Hawkeye State farmers.
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey announced recently that the state's farmers have submitted applications for $2.8 million in cost-sharing funding to help achieve a reduction in nutrients winding up in Iowa waters.
"Iowa farmers are very conservation-minded," Northey said in a statement released by the department he heads. "The tremendous response to this program shows again that they will respond voluntarily when presented with science-based solutions to conservation challenges. It is exciting that nearly 1,100 farmers were willing to put their own money towards trying new practices aimed at protecting water quality and improving soil health."
The money made available through the department is intended to encourage farmers to try new approaches to protecting water quality. The applications received from 1,096 farmers seeking to participate in the program involve 120,680 acres, according to information provided by state officials. The types of projects break down as follows:
109,415 acres of cover crops,
7,321 acres of nitrification inhibitor,
2,675 acres of no-till and
1,268 acres of strip-till.
It is striking that farmers in 97 of the state's 100 Soil and Water Conservation districts have applied to be part of this program.
The Iowa Department of Agriculture received $3 million in one-time funding to support science-based water quality practices over the next five years.
Northey has expressed great satisfaction with the enthusiastic response this program has gotten so far.
"This has been a great kickoff to our water quality initiative and we look forward to continuing to work with farmers to put more practices on the ground to better protect water quality here in Iowa and downstream as well," he said.
The Messenger shares the secretary's delight at the significant personal financial commitment Iowa farmers are making to this extremely worthwhile undertaking. It demonstrates that they understand the long-term value of keeping water as free as possible of potentially troublesome chemicals.
Northey and other officials at IDALS deserve applause for getting this important new project off to a highly successful start.