There isn't very much data about conservation practices on farms but the USDA is trying to change that.
This week the Natural Resources and Conservation Service (NRCS) announced that the second phase of the Conservation Effects Assessment Project is in action.
It will work with the National Agricultural Statistic Service to figure out how much conservation practices are going on.
In Iowa, about 537 farmers will fall into the study, so Iowa NASS enumerators will be out trying to contact them through February 1st. This is the second time a nationwide survey like this has been done, the last one was back between 2003 and 2006.
According to Iowa NASS Director Greg Thessen, a lot has changed in a decade, "Here in Iowa, you know, we have the Nutrient Reduction Strategy, which has provided some funding for farmers to put in conservation on their farm. There's always been federal programs the provide assistance to do the same thing. So the survey's going to measure all of those projects that farmers have put in place on their farm. Plus any that they put in place voluntarily. There could be some that farmers have put in without any assistance."
He says, "If farmers participate in a state or federal program and get cost share assistance, there's knowledge of those practices, but anything farmers do voluntarily on their farm. There really isn't any good measure of that. So this project will help determine what had been done voluntarily and help provide an overall or total look at what conservation practices are out on the land."
The data collected will show how much grassed water ways, terraces, and no-till practices have been implemented among others. The NRCS has not yet set a timeline on when the results of the survey will be released.