Boone River Watershed Project Receives Three-Year Extension
By Jordan Kolarik, Soil and Water Conservation District Project Coordinator
The Boone River Watershed Nutrient Management Initiative is excited to announce that this Water Quality Initiative Project will continue for another three year period. This project extension will allow for a continuation of productive field days, workshops and initiating additional conservation practices in the Eagle and Prairie Creek watersheds. The project began in 2014 when it was one of 8 watersheds across Iowa selected to receive funding from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. These designated areas are considered demonstration watersheds and are used to show the progress that can be made to improve water quality using the voluntary science based approach outlined by Iowa’s Nutrient Reduction Strategy for nonpoint nutrient pollution.
Partnership is the foundation of this project and will continue to be moving into the next three years. The Wright County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) is the project leader and has a large range of both public and private partners including Kossuth and Humboldt SWCD, USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service, Iowa Soybean Association, Hagie Manufacturing, The Nature Conservancy, Iowa State University Extension and many others. The project extension has added several new partners such as DuPont Pioneer and Iowa Corn with many more to come!
Getting conservation on the ground is key to making this project a success. Since the project began, the conservation practice goals set for acres of cover crops, strip-till/no-till, and nitrification inhibitor have been met or exceeded. In the last 3 years 12,000 acres of cover crops have been seeded in the project area. In addition, a drainage water management system and a Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) wetland have been constructed. Promotion and cost share assistance for these practices will continue with the extension. It’s exciting to announce that with this extension, additional practices will be added to the project including bioreactors, saturated buffers, filter strips and oxbows! An additional goal of the project has been to research these conservation practices and their effects on crop production and water quality. These efforts have included replicated strip trials, guided stalk samples and water quality monitoring throughout the watershed. These efforts will continue throughout the watershed and will be supported either from within our project or directly through project partners.
The importance of educating the public on both water and soil quality, as well as the need for conservation, cannot be emphasized enough. With the project extension, the project will be able to continue to collaborate with partners to promote these water quality improvement practices by emphasizing efforts on education, outreach, and the promotion of “Farmer Champions” who are advocates of implementing these conservation practices by providing an example in which others can follow and learn. In the coming year the project will form several new community groups. The Boone River Watershed Conservation Farmer Advisory Group will consist of watershed Farmer Champions that will have regularly scheduled meetings with the project coordinator and partners. These meetings will be open to the public and will provide an opportunity to discuss activities within the watershed and to answer questions. Another community group, Friends of the Boone River, will also be formed. This group will provide a great opportunity for all community members and organizations that are not directly involved in agriculture to participate or learn more about the project and water quality in their area.
It is exciting to announce this extension and anticipate great things moving forward with this project. A great foundation of partners, farmers, and landowners working towards improving water quality has been developed. Now the larger task of expanding and retaining these practices begins. This will be necessary if we, as a community of good neighbors and good stewards of the land, are going to meet the nutrient reduction goals set by the State of Iowa to provide safe drinking water and a healthy ecosystem for not only Iowans, but for all of those living downstream, as far reaching as the Gulf of Mexico.
If you would like to learn more about the project, please contact Jordan Kolarik, project coordinator, at 515-295-5156 ext. 303 or firstname.lastname@example.org.