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Want to build a wetland? There are funds available

By Staff | Feb 15, 2016

AREA LIKE this field that are prone to flooding, could possibly qualify as a farmed wetland. It could be in a set-aside program with a permanent wetland reserve easement. The landowner would be paid for the easement, while retaining ownership on the land. As a wetland, it could capture nitrates and phosphorus in runoff water, with natural wetland and prairie grasses capturing the nutrients before they get into a waterway. They also have wildlife benefits, as well.

FORT DODGE – Dr. Matt Helmers, an Iowa State University agriculture and biosystems engineer, told members of the ag committee of the Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance Feb. 4 that of all the practices available for keeping field nutrients from reaching surface waters, he favors wetlands.

These are shallow, marshy areas with heavy, dense soil. They capture water and hold it in place to give prairie and marsh grasses a chance to take up nitrates and phosphorus before the nutrients reach a stream or creek.

He said wetlands were filtering nitrates from ground and subsurface water for centuries before modern settlement brought agriculture to break prairie sod and drain the marshes so food crops could be grown.

If considering re-establishing a wetland, Helmers said, “the first thing you do is get down to the NRCS office and get a wetland determination.”

Bob Moser, district conservationist at the Natural Resources and Conservation Service in Webster County, said his office will assist farmers and the Farm Service Agency in technical support in re-establishing a wetland that had been drained, or obtaining permanent wetland easements in fields that are prone to flooding.

Moser said the federal Environmental Quality Incentives Program has cost-share dollars available for establishing wetlands.

The Conservation Reserve Program also has a wetland component, he said, through FSA.

“And we will help FSA with technical support,” Moser said.

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