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Brain-storming conservation

By Staff | Sep 17, 2016

HOWARD AND JUDY BOND, of Colfax, discuss some of the issues raised at the Sept. 9 farmland owners meeting at the Polk County Extension office in Altoona, such as who is responsible for paying for new edge-of-field conservation practices, the landlord or the tenant?

By LARRY KERSHNER

“mailto:kersh@farm-news.com”>kersh@farm-news.com

ALTOONA – Proposed. Landowners and tenants share responsibilities with edge-of-field conservation practices.

Proposed. Landowners should pay for infield conservation structures and tenants should maintain those practices, and this agreement should be part of the contract.

Proposed. Cost is the biggest barrier in improving surface water quality in Iowa.

SHARON CHISM, right, writes an answer on a sheet of paper during the Sept. 9 farmland owner meeting. She and those standing around her were brain-storming answers on what were the leading causes of water quality issues in Iowa.

Proposed. Too much tillage and a lack of conservation practices are the biggest causes of surface water quality problems in Iowa.

These were a few of the issues discussed at length Sept. 9 by 55 farmers, most of them farmland owners.

They were gathered at the Polk County Extension office in Altoona.

Polk County hosts a series of farmland owner meetings each year.

The audience divided into six groups and rotated through brain-storming answers to six water quality questions, then picked the top answers from each list.

Matt Helmers, an Iowa State University ag and biosystems engineer, outlined the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy, which has set a goal of reducing by 45 percent the nitrogen and phosphorus loads reaching Iowa’s surface waters.

Helmers then explained the different conservation practices that are available to farmers for improving surface water quality by preventing phosphorus, through soil erosion, and nitrates, through tile lines, reaching streams and rivers.

Included in the day was education on farm bill programs to help cost-hare the establishment on edge-of-field practices such as wetlands, saturated buffers, bioreactors and controlled drainage.

Howard and Judy Bond, of Colfax, are landowners who said they were looking for direction for maintaining or possibly replacing some of their in-field practices, including terraces, buffer strips and waterways.

“The maintenance is constant,”?Judy Bond said. “Every heavy rain causes damage.”

Howard Bond said he thinks landowners are responsible for creating conservation practices and tenants are responsible for maintaining the practices and for weed control.

Howard Bond said he was also looking to learn more about cover crops and any cost-share program that would help him get started planting them.

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