Local Farmer - Business Relationships Work Together to Promote Soil Conservation and Water Quality Improvement Efforts: Hancock County, Iowa
BMC Aggregates L.C. operates a number of quarries in the Cedar Valley area and maintains farm lease agreements for the adjacent farm lands located on the property. Sherman Lundy, with BMC Aggregates manages the company’s farm land agreements and works with farmer operators to promote conservation on the company’s agricultural lands. Sherman is a long time conservation champion who also serves on the on the State Soil & Water Quality Committee Board and as a Commissioner for the Black Hawk Soil and Water Conservation District. Sherman explains that BMC Aggregates works with their farmer operators to raise awareness of conservation in alignment with the company’s environmental goals for protecting groundwater and surface water from sediment runoff and nutrients in addition to maintaining soil and land quality. “We need to protect our soil and water resources, and also promote responsible land use and sustainability, this is a long term investment and it’s always done as a partnership. BMC Aggregates also recognizes the importance of economics when making responsible conservation decisions.” Sherman explains, “Many of these conservation efforts come at an upfront cost to farmers, we work with farmers to provide assistance and guidance wherever needed. There are also a number of local resources available and we always encourage our farmer operators to work with the local Natural Resource Conservation Service and Soil and Water Conservation District offices.” A number of conservation practices have been utilized over the years on BMC Aggregates farm land including no-till and cover crops. More recently they have been looking into newer, more innovative edge-of-field practices, such as bioreactors and saturated buffers which specifically target nutrient reduction in alignment with the goals of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy.
The first bioreactor project in the area was recently completed in Hancock County on the farm land adjacent to BMC Aggregates’ Garner Quarry Operations. The Weiland family currently farms the ground and were the original owners prior to BMC Aggregates establishing a quarry at the location. The Weilands’ support conservation efforts across their farming operation and were interested in the idea of in installing a bioreactor at this farm. Sherman explains, “Reid Weiland brought the idea to us and we were very excited to take advantage of this partnership opportunity”. Reid and BMC Aggregates worked with the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship’s Water Quality Initiative program for cost share funding to assist with design and construction of the bioreactor. The Iowa Soybean Association, in partnership with Ecosystems Services Exchange and Barker Lemar Engineering provided onsite survey and engineering design services as part of the installation process which took several months from start to finish. Both BMC Aggregates and the Weilands are excited with the project results and are looking for opportunities to install these practices on other farms. “The hope is that this conservation project can serve as a model for future installations, where partnerships come together and mutual benefits can be achieved”.