Reminder: Statewide Cost-Share Available for Water Quality Practices

DES MOINES -- Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey today reminded farmers the 2016 sign-up period is open for cost share funds for nutrient reduction practices. This program has been popular with farmers interested in adding additional practices to their operation. Practices eligible for this funding are cover crops, no-till or strip till, or using a nitrification inhibitor when applying fertilizer. 

“With planting completed in much of the state, now is a great time for farmers to visit their local Soil and Water Conservation District office to sign-up for cost share and learn about other conservation programs available as well,” Northey said. “We continue to see cover crop acreage expand, but we still have more work to do. This program is a great way for farmers to try a practice and see how it fits on their farm.” 

The cost share rate for farmers planting cover crops is $25 per acre ($15 per acre for past cover crop users) and for farmers trying no-till or strip till is $10 per acre. Farmers using a nitrapyrin nitrification inhibitor when applying fall fertilizer can receive $3 per acre. 

Farmers who have already used cover crops on their farm are eligible for a reduced rate of $15 per acre. First-time cover crop users will receive priority consideration for this assistance. Farmers are only eligible for cost share on up to 160 acres. The funds will be made available in July, but farmers can immediately start submitting applications through their local Soil and Water Conservation District office.  

Farmers are encouraged to visit their local Soil and Water Conservation District office to learn more about other conservation programs offered at their local SWCDs. Click here for the Soil and Water Conservation Districts directory.

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship received $9.6 million for the Iowa Water Quality Initiative in fiscal year 2017. These funds will allow the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship to continue to encourage the broad adoption of water quality practices through statewide cost share assistance as well as more intensive work in targeted watersheds.  

In the last 3 years this program has been available, over 2,900 farmers in each of Iowa’s 99 counties have put in new nutrient reduction practices on over 294,000 acres. The state provided about $6.2 million in cost share funding to help farmers try a water quality practice and Iowa farmers provided more than $6.2 million of their own resources to support these water quality practices.  

Background on Iowa Water Quality Initiative
The Iowa Water Quality Initiative was established in 2013 to help implement the Nutrient Reduction Strategy, which is a science and technology based approach to achieving a 45 percent reduction in nitrogen and phosphorus losses to our waters. The strategy brings together both point sources, such as municipal wastewater treatment plants and industrial facilities, and nonpoint sources, including farm fields and urban stormwater runoff, to address these issues. 

The initiative seeks to harness the collective ability of both private and public resources and organizations to deliver a clear and consistent message to stakeholders to reduce nutrient loss and improve water quality.  

In addition to the statewide cost share, there are also currently 45 existing demonstration projects located across the state to help implement and demonstrate water quality practices through the initiative. This includes 16 targeted watershed projects, 7 projects focused on expanding the use and innovative delivery of water quality practices and 22 urban water quality demonstration projects. More than 100 organizations are participating in these projects. These partners will provide $19.31 million dollars to go with over $12 million in state funding going to these projects.  

More than $325 million in state and federal funds have been directed to programs with water quality benefits in Iowa last year. This total does not include the cost share amount that farmers pay to match state and federal programs and funds spent to build practices built without government assistance.