Iowa agriculture groups back water quality alliance


Standing water in an Iowa field during the summer of 2014 (Carl Wycoff/Flickr)

Standing water in an Iowa field during the summer of 2014 (Carl Wycoff/Flickr)

KC McGinnis | October 1, 2014

A recently launched nonprofit organization backed by three of Iowa’s largest agricultural groups hopes it can help Iowa farmers protect water quality.

Funded by the Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Soybean Association and Iowa Pork Producers Association, the Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance (IAWA) was launched in late August to assist Iowa farmers in implementing the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy. The strategy, developed after a request from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2008, is an initiative by farmers, scientists and water treatment plants to reduce the amount of nitrate and phosphorus being released into Iowa waterways. Most of these nutrients are released from farms and other agricultural producers, and can cause significant problems for habitats all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.

The IAWA intends to work with researchers and agriculture stakeholders to increase understanding of nutrient reduction methods. It stresses continued flexibility for farmers, who are encouraged but not mandated to implement the elements of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy.

A recent report, however, casts doubt on the effectiveness of this voluntary approach for agricultural producers, who contribute the vast majority of phosphorus and nitrate to Iowa waterways. This could be because of a lack of awareness or understanding of the program. Last year, only half of Iowa farmers surveyed who were aware of the Nutrient Reduction Strategy chose to participate, and about a third were unaware of the program altogether.

One thought on “Iowa agriculture groups back water quality alliance

  1. “… casts doubt on the effectiveness of this voluntary approach for agricultural producers, who contribute the vast majority of phosphorus and nitrate to Iowa waterways …” The Initiative should in my opinion not just aim at reducing effluents by “optimizing” the old strategies because in the last analysis saving nutrients or looking after better retention may not create as many saving as letting things run as they are. Farmers should also be made aware of alternative farming techniques, such as aquaponics which by definition does not release fertilizers into the waterways as it is not only a mostly closed system but the “fertilizer” produced comes from aquatic organisms that cohabitate with plants which in turn use these effluents “there and then”.

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