Edge of field conservation funds available in Iowa's Polk, Story counties

Iowa State University and Extension
Farm Forum

AMES, Iowa — Cropland owners within the South Skunk River Watershed in Story and Polk counties may be eligible for new conservation funding.

Those who have tile drained fields emptying into ditches, creeks, streams and other flowing bodies of water can receive 75% cost share and a bonus payment of up to $1,000 if they install saturated buffers and bioreactors.

The $1,000 bonus is a new offering, and applies per tile outlet treated, which means landowners can receive multiple bonuses, based on the number of projects installed.

Landowners can learn more about the effort during a Feb. 25 Zoom webinar with Doug Gass, project coordinator for the South Skunk River Watershed, with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. The webinar will be from 6 to 7 p.m. To register, contact Gass at dgass@iastate.edu or call 515-294-7148.

“Saturated buffers and bioreactors are two of the most effective practices for reducing nutrient loss in Iowa,” said Gass. “Each practice can, on average, cut nitrate losses in half.”

While this project is targeted at the South Skunk watershed, Gass said the goal is to increase the number of edge-of-field conservation practices across the state. Currently, he estimates there are about 100 saturated buffers and bioreactors in Iowa, with a need of 100,000.

The higher number is part of what is needed to reach the goal of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy, of reducing nitrogen and phosphorus runoff by 45%. Gass said he is hopeful the success in these two counties will spread across the state.

Outreach for the project is supported by the Polk County Public Works and Heartland Co-op. Funding is being provided by multiple state and national partners.