February 6, 2017

Conservation Infrastructure Initiative

Improving Conservation Infrastructure Requires Collaboration, Continuous Improvement & Sustained Effort

Info-graphic showing how Iowa's water quality challenge represents an economic growth opportunity

Our water quality challenge represents an economic development opportunity. Iowa’s 88,000 farmers managing 23M acres on 12 different major soil types are facing severe weather events and water quality challenges. The science-based Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy offers a suite of practices that can help reduce phosphorus and nitrate in water. The estimated opportunity for two of these practices – cover crops and bioreactors – is representative of other possibilities for economic growth and innovation as we continue working toward improved water quality. 

Cover crops icon

Solution: Cover Crops

Need: 12-17M acres

Current status: ~500K acres

Future opportunities:

  • 300,000 acres of seed production
  • 300 aerial seed applicators
  • Special planters
  • Seed cleaners
  • 17,000 semis to transport seed

Expertise necessary:

  • Agronomists
  • More research

Bioreactor icon

Solution: Bioreactors*

Need: 100,000 - 140,000 across state

Current status:  ~60 completed

Future opportunities:

  • Enough wood chips to fill 109,000 rail train cars, which would equal the distance from Des Moines to Boston
  • ~120,000 site plans
  • ~240,000 site investigations
  • ~180,000 water control structures

Expertise necessary:

  • Engineering and soil science
  • Construction contractors
  • Monitoring/Data interpretation
  • Management/Maintenance

*Saturated buffers may be used at some locations