A Passion to Showcase Soil Health Builds Consultant Success

By Kurt Lawton Taking a more holistic view of farming — from the health of microbes in the soil to the health of crop profits — has farmers paying attention to a young soil health consultant in eastern Iowa. Mitchell Hora’s data-driven approach to soil biology, combined with his passion for on-farm research and education[…]

Iowa Farmers Rely on Cover Crops to Improve Prevent Plant Acres

By Kurt Lawton The calendar can’t turn fast enough this year for farmers, many who endured both a soggy #Plant 19 and a wet, snowy #Harvest19, as Twitter posts showcased. Late snow runoff and frequent big storms drenched the Midwest during planting season, which idled 11.4 million acres of corn and 4.4 million acres of[…]

Soil Saving Farmers Invest in Practices to Improve Water Quality

Article and photos by Kurt Lawton In the rolling hills of east-central Iowa in Cedar County, family farmers Ken Fawcett and his nephew Kent Stuart have long used conservation practices that keep the soil at home and healthy. However, it was their desire to improve water quality that led them to the recent installation of a[…]

Improving Iowa’s Water Quality: 5 Things You Need to Know

Water quality is an important issue in Iowa. At the Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance (IAWA), our goal is to increase farmer-led conservation efforts. Together with landowners, partner organizations, and the private sector, we are doing just that. Learn more about five water quality initiatives that are playing a major role in improved water quality across[…]

Unique Approach for Landowner Outreach – Letters from Lee Gravel

By: Sarah Feehan, IAWA Communications Intern The workplace of the North Raccoon watershed implementation coordinator, Lee Gravel, is designed to accommodate ergonomics for computer work. As a result, Gravel’s standing desk occupies much of his actual “desk” area and handwriting letters can prove difficult. With his ballpoint pen in hand, Gravel leaves his normal work[…]

Iowa Delegation Aims for Waves of Change for Water Quality

By: Sarah Feehan The Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance (IAWA) and the Iowa Soybean Association will soon lead their third Iowa delegation to the upcoming One Water Summit, convened by the U.S. Water Alliance. Last year, the diverse Iowa delegation included Lee Gravel, watershed coordinator for the Headwaters of the North Raccoon Water Quality Improvement Project[…]

Best is Yet to Come in Improving Iowa’s Water Quality

Recently, the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy (NRS) turned five years old. Sean McMahon, Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance Executive Director, reflects on the progress made to date and the work still required to improve water quality. _____________________________________________________________________________________ Iowa’s farmers have made tremendous progress reducing soil erosion by adopting practices such as no-till or strip-till, grass waterways,[…]

Second Wave of Conservation Farmers Boosts Rock Creek Progress

Kevin Sprung had mixed feelings about the two saturated buffers installed last summer on his farm near Osage, Iowa. “At first, I resisted the idea. I spent a lot of time and money on tile and on improving the tile,” he says.  His initial reaction was, “I don’t want to put a shutoff at the[…]

Collaboration through Fourmile Creek Watershed for Water Quality

John Swanson has a lifelong fondness for Fourmile Creek. “I grew up playing in Fourmile Creek as a kid,” he says. Swanson is the watershed management authority coordinator for Fourmile Creek, along with two other watersheds in the Des Moines area. Following is an overview of improvements planned and underway in each of Fourmile Creek’s[…]

Central Iowa Watershed Plan Engages Urban Rural Collaboration

Urban and rural stakeholders continue to work together to determine the right combination of practices needed to form an integrated system that best meets local watershed and priority resource needs. A rusty mailbox is all that remains on a house lot on a nearly abandoned street in Des Moines. It marks one way the city[…]