The governor told the crowd of about 50 people on the Madison County conservation farm tour he doesn't believe farmers are bad stewards of the land. They don't recklessly over-apply fertilizer. "In fact, the opposite is true," he says. "I support the nutrient reduction strategy as a practical approach that will work with landowners, cities and other stakeholders in a scientific and cost-effective manner. It's very much in the farmers' interest not to over-apply nutrients. Fertilizer is a significant crop production cost for farmers; and manure nutrients are valuable too."
Iowa landowners and farmers will need to install more man-made wetlands, along with other soil and water conservation practices
Branstad told the crowd that building more wetlands statewide, along with putting a number of other soil conservation practices on the land will improve water quality. Those practices include installing more terraces, grass waterways, widespread use of cover crops, more no-till acres, as well as construction of man-made wetlands. Wetlands act as a natural filter to remove nitrates and phosphorus from water before it enters the creek and leaves the farm. A 3-year old constructed wetland was featured on the conservation tour on the Martens farm.
With Branstad on the tour were Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey and Chuck Gipp, director of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. They explained how the strategy was developed over the past few years by a task force of representatives from the Iowa Department of Ag & Land Stewardship, the Iowa DNR and Iowa State University scientists. The plan is available here.