The Daily Iowegian
---- — DES MOINES — Iowa Soil and Water Conservation Week is an opportunity to recognize the important conservation practices placed on Iowa’s landscape and bring attention to the ongoing work by farmers, landowners and urban residents to protect the state’s soil and water resources. On Monday, April 29 Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad will sign a proclamation recognizing April 28–May 5 as Iowa Soil and Water Conservation Week.“Soil and Water Conservation Week is a great opportunity to highlight the important work being done to prevent soil erosion and protect water quality in Iowa,” Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey said. “It is vital that we preserve these resources that help make Iowa agriculture so productive and such a key driver of our state’s economy.”During the “Dust Bowl” years of the 1930s, the first efforts to prevent soil erosion were developed. In 1939, Iowa passed a law establishing a state agency and the means for soil and water conservation districts to organize. Over 70 years later, the 100 Soil and Water Conservation Districts across the state are hosting a variety of events to highlight the conservation work being done across the state. To see details of all events being held this week visit www.iowaagriculture.gov/conservationweek.asp. The Department’s Division of Soil Conservation provides leadership in the protection and management of soil, water and mineral resources. The Division also works with Soil and Water Conservation Districts and private farmers and landowners to meet their agricultural and environmental protection needs, in both rural and urban landscapes. The Department’s conservation partners include USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, and Iowa State University and many others.This year we celebrate 40 years of Iowa’s Cost Share Program, the first of its kind in the nation to put conservation practices on the land. Cost share provides funds to support the construction of conservation practices that are matched by farmers or landowners. In Iowa, over half the practices placed on the land are terraces, with grasses waterways making up almost a fifth. Other practices include water and sediment control basins, grade stabilization structures and more.Iowa Soil and Water Conservation Week is in coordination with the national Stewardship Week, sponsored by the National Association of Conservation Districts. This year’s Stewardship Week theme is “Where does your water shed.” Currently, there are more than 57 active watershed and water quality projects across the state.The Department, in conjunction with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and Iowa State University, has also recently released a draft Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy. The strategy is a science and technology-based framework to assess and reduce nutrients delivered to Iowa waters and the Gulf of Mexico. The strategy uses a comprehensive and integrated approach, addressing both point and nonpoint sources of nutrients, to achieve reductions in loading of both nitrogen and phosphorus into Iowa’s lakes and streams. Anyone interested in learning more about the strategy can visit www.nutrientstrategy.iastate.edu.“We still have more work to do on conservation, but working together, in partnership, I’m confident we can build on the conservation ethic of Iowans and continue our efforts to improve the quality of the air, soil and water in our state,” Northey said.Northey, a corn and soybean farmer from Spirit Lake, is serving his second term as Iowa Secretary of Agriculture. His priorities are the expanding the opportunities surrounding renewable energy, promoting conservation and stewardship, and telling the story of Iowa agriculture.