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Water quality is prominent on the agenda at this year’s Iowa Farm Bureau convention in downtown Des Moines.

At a panel discussion on December 2nd, Adair county farmer Randy Caveniss explains how putting his land under no-till practices back in the 1980s increased his revenue and allowed him to expand his operation. Caviness sits on his county’s Soil Conservation Board, which recently received a $300,000 grant from the state’s Water Improvement Review Board to improve the west fork of the Nodaway River. In total Caviness estimates the project will cost about $900,000.

Despite money heading toward the problem, meaningful progress on improving statewide water quality can, at times, seem elusive. Caviness says one way for producers to communicate that they are dedicated to cleaner water is to integrate better conservation practices on their farms.

“And one of the things that I think is a challenge is we have absentee landowners that don’t care. They’re renting to farmers that maybe, are just trying to do acres. And that’s probably one of the biggest challenges.” He says, “How do we get to the point where dollars and cents are important, but the bigger issue is the soil in the water, and what happens after that. So, what we do in the spring, affects one season. But the soil that we lose affects generations to come and so it’s that important. ”

Caviness says clean water is an issue everyone is concerned about.

“Everyone cares about clean water, we affect everyone’s environment. But we as the caretakers of that land, have to be responsible and do what we can, to try and keep the nutrients in place, the soil in its place. It doesn’t do us any good to buy fertilizer and have it go down the river. Nobody wants that, we don’t want it, it’s a waste of money. So we have to figure out ways through cover crops and other big alternative issue that can be help to keep reserve that soil during the off season.

The Iowa Farm Annual convention goes from December 2 to 3.