LICA tour focused on water quality
MELBOURNE – Droughts and flooding have given Iowa farmers headaches the last few years, and members of the Iowa Land Improvement Contractors of America offered possible solutions to those problems on May 29.
The LICA farm, located just south of Melbourne, showcases examples of water-managment technology and methods.
“It’s a one-stop shop for conservation,” said Tim Recker of Recker Excavating Co. and LICA member.
Recker led a tour group composed of LICA members, Iowa politicians and members of the Iowa Corn Growers Association and the Iowa Department of Land Stewardship.
Iowa farmers also joined the tour.
There were several exhibits, each with its own method of water reducing nutirents from runoff water before reaching surface waters and reducing erosion.
One example was a rain simulator by the Iowa Natural Resources Conservation Service.
The simulator sprayed water on four types of soil with different material makeup.
The point of the simulator was to show how different soil tillage practices affect water absorption and runoff.
Runoff occurs when moisture exceeds the soil’s ability to hold it, and the extra water runs downhill, often into a nearby watershed.
The water washes away soil – erosion. Runoff water contains any residual and phosphorus.
“Organic matter is the single most important factor in soil quality,” said Rick Bednarek, state soil scientist for the Iowa NRCS.
Dan Rasmussen, executive director of LICA, said the farm is used for educational purposes.
“We use this farm to showcase the different conservation projects that can be put on farmland,” he said.
Rep. David Young, R-Iowa, said he learned things from the tour and enjoyed seeing the various soil management methods.
“I grew up and live in Van Meter, so I worked summer jobs at farms,” he said. “This was a great educational experience for me.”
The LICA farm conservation methods include a septic system, a rain garden, a bioreactor, a Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program wetland, terraces, waterways and a sediment control structure.
Rasmussen said all of these water qaulity methods being available in one location makes it convenient for visitors to learn about water conservation.
Sponsors of the tour include LICA, IDALS and the ICGA. Rasmussen said he was happy to have the support of various agriculture groups.
“We’re sitting on a 1,000-acre watershed,” he said, adding that all of that water gets treated in one way or another on the LICA farm.
He believes more and more farmers will include methods featured at the LICA farm.
Rasmussen said he would like to see a concerted effort by area farmers to practice some of these water conservation methods.
He said this would improve many Iowans’ water quality.
“Every time we do a little something, that’s something,” Rasmussen said. “If everyone does a little, we can do a lot.”
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