Leading a New Collaborative Approach to Improving Water Quality in the Squaw Creek Watershed



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Total project

The Squaw Creek Watershed is located in Boone, Story, and Hamilton County, Iowa. The primary objective of this demonstration projection is to achieve nutrient reduction in the watershed with the involvement of multiple partners and stakeholders along with the use of cutting-edge technology. This demonstration project established a 20-year strategic plan to help guide and target nutrient management efforts within the watershed using the Agriculture Conservation Planning Framework, along with other mapping technologies, in order to carefully examine the best use of conservation practices. This is so that farmers and landowners may more precisely address soil and water impairments in the watershed. An additional component of this project is education and awareness of watershed issues for farmer, landowners, and urban residents. If members of a watershed are not knowledgeable about the existing impairments in their watershed, they cannot act to improve the landscape. The project seeks to create watershed citizens who are personally invested in the soil health and water quality in the watershed. This project emphasizes the use of field days, workshops, and other educational opportunities to reach out to land managers as well as the public on soil health and water quality. The project will use selected conservation practices identified within the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy and will place them in known impaired areas in the watershed. Targeted implementation of conservation practices will demonstrate how conservation can be both beneficial to the watershed and enable a resilient future for Iowa agriculture. Prairie Rivers of Iowa, with the assistance of project partners, will conduct targeted outreach with farmers and landowners and guide them through every step of the process, from filling out applications for cost-share to practice implementation. The goal of Prairie Rivers of Iowa is to work alongside individuals to document successes as well as troubleshoot any challenges. We intend to make the inclusion of conservation practices as easy as possible so that farmers and landowners may focus on keeping the landscape resilient for future generations of Iowans.

(1) Cover crops 2,000 acres in year one expanding to 6,500 acres in year 2 and 3 with an estimated reduction of >148,000 lbs. of nitrogen and 3,350 lbs. of phosphorus. (2) No-till 538 acres of no-till/year for an estimated total phosphorus reduction of 421 lbs. (3) Crop Rotation (extended alfalfa) 141 acres by year 2, expanding to 282 acres in year 3 for an estimated reduction of >5,500 lbs. of nitrogen and 72 lbs. of phosphorus. (4) Buffer Strips Installation of buffer strips to treat 6,250 acres of cropland resulting in an estimated reduction of approximately 3.6 million pounds of nitrogen and 56,000 pounds of phosphorus over the next 20 years. (5) Bioreactors Installing two will result in an estimated reduction of >22,000 lbs. of nitrogen over the next 20 years. (6) Saturated Buffers and Perennials Goal to treat 70,000 acres resulting in an estimated reduction of approximately 22.5 million pounds of nitrogen over the next 20 years.


Conservation Practices

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Project Coordinator

Kayla Hasper


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