Water quality is a top issue for both state legislators and farmers, but there are many different ways to improve the land so fewer nutrients get into waterways.
Over in Melborne, Iowa there’s a farm that showcases nearly all of those ways.
In 2004, the Iowa Land Improvement Contractors (ILIC) bought a fixer-upper farm to have field days to teach its members how to create water quality projects.
They could learn the newest practices or technology of conservation.
Past President of (ILIC) Tim Recker says, “Little did we know at the time that we’re building an entire water quality system on an 80 acre farm and so what you’re seeing today is a farm that has every kind of conservation practice probably known to Iowa. That can be implemented on any Iowa farmland.”
Recker says, “The water comes in nutrient rich on the upside. And before it leaves our farm, it leaves with less nutrients and less sediment.”
Last week, Iowa Senator Joni Ernst and Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey were out at the farm looking at the nearly ten different conservation practices in a walking tour. Including wetlands, terraces, sediment control basins, grassed waterways, water control structures, bioreactors, and rain gardens.
Northey says, “This is unusual that it’s all in one farm. But nearly all these practices could be scattered out to lots and lots of different farms. And in some cases, we see a few of these practices in some of our urban areas as well.”
There are cost share programs that can help farmers who think a practice found on the demonstration farm would be good for their own land. Northey says they can partner directly with the farmer.
Recker welcomes anyone to visit the farm in Melborne to see the variety of conservation projects, “There’s nothing special about this farm. These practices can be done by any Iowa farmer, anybody in the Midwest.”