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New money coming for regional MRBI projects

By Staff | Nov 5, 2010

An example of winter rye planted in a soybean field just ahead of harvesting this fall. The cover crops was applied in Wright County.

With the 2010 crop securely in storage or enroute to cash markets, Iowa’s farmers are turning to the next chore, field prep for 2011.

Such do lists include tillage, anhydrous ammonia applications and tiling.

According to Bruce Voights, of Clarion, coordinator for the Mississippi River Basin Initiative, those doing tiling have an opportunity to install relatively inexpensive birotatory to help filter field runoff, eliminating nitrates before they reach local waterways.

Voights said there are federal cost-share dollars available for implementing a number of clean water efforts, especially for those living within targeted areas identified by the MRBI.

The MRBI, a five-year project designed to reduce runoff nutrients reaching the Mississippi River has targeted 12 states, including Iowa. Within Iowa are 18 projects. Within this readership are 12 targeted counties in two separate projects. these include:

  • North Racoon River: The bulk of Buena Vista county, plus western Pocahontas, eastern sac, all of Calhoun, northwest Carroll, southwest Webster, the bulk of Greene and Dallas counties.
  • Boon River: Comprising of southeast Kossuth, southwest Hancock, the eastern third of Humboldt, the western half of Wright, and northwest and west central Hamilton counties.

Voights said that farm owners and operators in these watershed areas can get financial assistance to implement voluntary land management practices designed to control and trap nutrient runoff from ag land.

In 2010, the local two target areas quickly spent their allotments of $380,000, Voights said.

However, he said, the next influx of funding, a total $1.2 million, will be released within the next two weeks.

Voights said there will be some cost-share available for those who would plant cover crops following the 2011 harvest, begin a nutrient management system in row-cropped fields and install bioreactors.

Bioreactors are underground catch basins, or can be trenches, fed by field tile. The basins have filters, usually woodchips, designed to absorb nitrates, which microbes will feed upon.

Voights said test bioreactors in Greene, Webster and Hamilton counties are showing that as much as 80 percent of the nitrates leaving a field are captured by the reactors.

“They act like a septic tank for row crops,”?Voights said. “It’s not so good going in, but a lot better coming better.’

There are roughly 800 producers in the Boone and Raccoon River targeted areas, Voights said.

Those interested in taking voluntary measures to reduce nitrate runoff from their fields, may apply for financial assistance by contact Voights at (515) 532-2165.

He recommends that landowners or operators complete an application form, which will get them into the list of serious-minded producers who wish to participate.

The federal funds are made available through the 2009 Farm Bill and administered primarily through the Natural Resources and Conservation Service and other funding partners.

The other 11 participating states include Arkansas, Kentucky, Illinois, indiana, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee and Wisconsin.

Contact Larry Kershner at (515) 573-2141, Ext. 453 or at kersh@farm-news.com.

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