April 17, 2017

Bill Northey: “Ready to Join Our Conservation Conversation?”

Bill Northey Talks About Water Quality on Your Farm

What’s the next step? Secretary Northey believes every farmer has the opportunity to try a new practice in the next year. To learn about available, science-based practices that would fit best on your farm, click here. These conservation practices improve soil health and water quality.

“Just start!” he says enthusiastically. “It’s good to get started and figure out the kinds of things that will work – even if it gets you to a place where it makes it easier to ask questions about how to improve a new practice…because you’ve tried something new.”

“With the Strategy as our guide, we set about the hard work of getting more practices on the ground that have been scientifically shown to protect water quality.”

He offers the following ideas:

  1. Experiment with nutrient management, including splitting your rates of nitrogen over several different applications. Work with a professional service that will help you figure out the precise amount and the timing of nitrogen for your fields.
  2. Try cover crops on a few acres. While many early adopters of cover crops are increasing their acres across Iowa, Northey notes that a record 900 Iowa farmers participated for the first time this year in a $3.8 million state cost-share program.
  3. Participate in field days to learn more about saturated buffers, bioreactors or wetlands.

Northey sees water quality as one of the bigger projects he oversaw as secretary. On his watch, for example, farmers went from planting 50,000 acres in cover crops to 600,­000 acres.

In conclusion, Secretary Northey says, “Don’t try to solve all the problems of water quality on your farm in one year,” he advises. “Address it a piece at a time, because this is something we’re going to be doing over the long-term.”

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