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joint publication of the

Belmond Independent,

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Eagle Grove Eagle

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Wright County Monitor

— Wright County Soil & Water Conservation District Report —

Thursday, March 27, 2014

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Conservation Awards presented at Annual Banquet

The Wright County Soil and Water Conservation District Commissioners honored the following district winners at a banquet on Thursday, February 27th, at the Clarion-Goldfield High School. The meal was prepared by Mrs. Angie Charlson, FFA Instructor, and several of her high school students. They planned, fixed, and served the meal for the awards banquet. There were 44 guests in attendance. Robin and Becky Steiner, of Clarion, were nominated for the 2013 Conservation Farmer of the Year Award. Rob and Becky farm in Dayton; Lincoln; and Wall Lake Townships in Wright County. Rob did nutrient and pest management when it first was available through the EQIP program. He has attended several meetings to learn more about the EQIP and CSP programs. Rob encourages his landlords to apply conservation practices on their land and he allows hunters to hunt pheasants and ducks on his land. Rob has installed Filter Strips; Grassed Waterways; Wetlands; and a native grass and forb planting on several tracts in his farm. Rob is enrolled in the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) and has implemented several practices through that program. In his free time, Rob enjoys restoring old cars and gas pumps. He is restoring an old gas station in Clarion that will be an ice cream shop this summer. Rob, Becky, and their family enjoy camping in the summer and Rob likes to go ice fishing in the winter. He also enjoys collecting oil cans and oil signs. Rob learned a lot of his conservation ethics from his dad and he says that he strives to be a good conservation steward of his land so that it can be passed down to future generations. Don and Margaret Ellis, Dows, were nominated for the Izaak Walton League Windbreak Award. Don and Margaret live on an acreage west of Dows. In the mid 80’s, there was an old grove on their farmstead of Chinese Elm and

maples. It needed to be replaced so they had bulldozers come in and tear out all of the old trees. They had NRCS design a new windbreak and they did all of the planting themselves with the help of their family. The farmstead windbreak today consists of 1 row of Colorado Blue Spruce; 1 row of Black Hills Spruce; and 1 row of Chinese Lilac shrubs. In the 3 rows, there are approximately 120 trees and shrubs. Don and Margaret watered the trees and shrubs for the first two years. When there were some very dry years, they did extensive watering of the trees and shrubs. They also mowed throughout the windbreak during the first years after planting it. Since it has been planted, they have not lost any of the trees or shrubs and have not had any problems with diseases or pests. They enjoy their windbreak and all of the benefits it gives them by protecting their farmstead from wind and snow. Ron and Sandy Sturgeon, of Rowan, were nominated for the District’s Woodland Owner of the Year. Ron and Sandy’s main objective and goal for the woodland planting was to maintain the windbreak on the west side of their house and to restore the wooded area. Before the tree planting, Ron and Sandy had lost many trees due to the weather elements and they needed to replace the trees that they had lost. They started their windbreak by planting pines. After it was established, they planted several varieties of trees to the north and south of the pines. In 2007, they planted 1800 trees on 3.9 acres. The variety of species they planted were – 400 Black Walnut; 100 Sycamore; 300 White Oak; 300 Bur Oak; 200 Black Oak; 300 Red Oak; and 200 Red Pine. In the last two years, they have started to thin the trees out and have moved some of them to the back side of their house yard. Ron and Sandy have sprayed the trees for pests. They also mow between the rows a few times each year to control

the weeds. They enjoy watching the wildlife that uses the woodland area. They can look out to the west of their house and will usually see turkeys, deer, and many kinds of birds. Diane O’Hern, of Eagle-Grove, was nominated for the Elementary (K-7) Teacher of the Year award. Diane was a teacher at the EagleGrove Elementary and Robert Blue Middle School. She taught Art to all students in grades K-8 for a total of 32 years. Diane grew up in a small community where farming was very important. Her parents and grandparents were farmers and her brother continues to farm today. Being outdoors was always a part of Diane’s life and taking care of the land and water is still important to her today. In teaching conservation to the students, Diane’s art lessons on nature were done outside and included an outdoor classroom at Lake Cornelia. In these lessons, the students were to find lines, patterns, and shapes in the leaves, rocks, tree bark, and observe the shadows in the ripples of the lake water. The hands on activities, the smell of the outdoors, and the subjects in nature inspired the students to be good stewards of Iowa’s soil and water. In teaching conservation in the classroom, Diane had the students create artworks with farming images, land, water, trees, outdoor insects, and wildflowers using a variety of tools and materials. She encouraged the students to bring their creative “curiosity” when doing a project. Diane always enjoyed having her students participate in the soil and water conservation district poster contest. She felt that the poster contest motivated the students to create a poster about ways to keep our environment clean and productive. Diane has used her artistic talents by volunteering to paint the Scandinavian artwork and trim at the Flowing Well Park in Eagle Grove. Diane retired from teaching in 2013. She and her husband Dan live in Eagle Grove.

Each year, the Wright County SWCD sponsors a poster contest through the Conservation Districts of Iowa in cooperation with the local schools. The theme for the 2013 poster contest was “Where Does Your Water Shed”. Using this theme, the students had to draw a poster showing how important the watershed is that we each live in. A watershed provides water for drinking, agriculture production, and industry. Healthy watersheds provide food and shelter for a diversity of plants and animals. The poster contest helped the students realize that we are all responsible for taking care of the watershed that we live in. In 2013, the Wright County Soil and Water Conservation District office received 10 entries in two different divisions from students in the Eagle-Grove school district. The district presented certificates to all of the participants at the school’s year-end awards assembly last May. The commissioners chose the following winners in each division. These students, along with their parents, were invited to attend the district awards banquet on February 27th. In Division 3 (grades 4-6) – 1st place was Jewelz Gilliland; 2nd place was Alecia Anderson. In Division 4 (grades 7-9) – 1st place was Selena Padilla; 2nd place was Sarah Wilson; and 3rd place was Madison Bice. Following the local district judging of the posters, the first place winners in each division are forwarded on to the regional competition. In the Conservation Districts of Iowa Region 2, there are 13 counties that can submit posters. Selena Padilla’s poster was a 1st place winner in the CDI Region 2 competition for Division 4 (grades 7-9). She was presented with a certificate and a $35 prize check from Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance Company, who is a corporate sponsor of the poster contest. The Wright County Soil and Water Conservation District congratulates all of the award winners for their outstanding accomplishments in soil and water conservation. Their proper land use contributes to the protection and improvements of land and water resources in Wright County. If you would like to nominate someone for an award, please contact the district office.

Teacher of the Year award

Wright County Soil and Water Conservation District Commissioner Steve Janssen (left) presents Diane O’Hern with the Elementary (K-7) Teacher of the Year award. Diane recently retired after being an art teacher in the Eagle-Grove School District for 32 years. She taught the students conservation in the classroom; used nature and the outdoors in her art lessons; and inspired the students to be good stewards of the soil and water. Photo by Matt Voigts

Conservation Farmer of the Year Wright County Soil and Water Conservation District Commissioner Steve Janssen (left) presents Rob and Becky Steiner with the Conservation Farmer of the Year award. Rob strives to be a good conservation steward on his land; attends meetings to learn more about any conservation programs; and encourages his landlords to participate in conservation practices. Photo by Matt Voigts

Windbreak award Steve Janssen (left), chairman for the Wright County Soil and Water Conservation District, presents Brian and Betty Ellis with the Izaak Walton League Windbreak Award. They were receiving the award on behalf of his parents, Don and Margaret Ellis, who have planted a large windbreak around their farm to help protect it from the wind and snow. Photo by Matt Voigts


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Thursday, March 27, 2014 • Wright County Soil & Water Conservation District Report

USE OF DISTRICT FUNDS

Resource Enhancement and Protection Program (REAP) The Wright County Soil & Water Conservation District has funds available through the Resource Enhancement and Protection Program (REAP) for the cost share of farmstead windbreaks, field windbreaks, timber stand improvement, and tree plantings. Farmstead windbreaks: REAP pays 75 percent of the actual cost. The total cost share for establishment can not exceed $1500. Field Windbreak: REAP pays 75 percent of the actual cost. Timber Stand Improvement: Approved forest management plan is required. REAP pays 75 percent of the actual cost not to exceed $120/ acre for thinning, pruning crop trees, or releasing seedlings or young trees. There is a 5 acre minimum for

Wright County Soil & Water Conservation District Report on Annual use of District Funds July 1, 2012 through June 30, 2013

timber stand improvement. Tree Planting: Approved forest management plan required. REAP pays 75 percent of the actual cost not to exceed $450/acre (including establishing ground cover, trees, tree planting operations and weed and pest control.) REAP also pays 75 percent of the actual cost not to exceed $150/acre for woody plant competition control. There is a 3 acre minimum for tree planting. There is also cost share available for conservation cover; fencing systems; planned grazing systems; and riparian forest buffer. If interested contact the Wright County Soil and Water Conservation District office in Clarion at 515-5322165, Ext 3.

1M BUDGET (Commissioner & Office Expenses) The 1M budget funds are provided by the State of Iowa and allocated to the district by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land StewardshipDivision of Soil Conservation. Receipts – Initial Allocation (7/12) Supplemental Allocation (5/13) Total Allocation Expenditures – Commissioner Expenses District expenses (checks/SDB fee) Frames – award certificates Legal public meeting notices Postage Annual report CDI Dues NACD Dues Total Expenses Recalled by the State (6/30/13)

Two grain drills can be rented from swcd

Wright County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) has two grain drills available for rent that can be used to seed on hay ground and most conservation practice areas. The rental price is $10 an acre with a $50 minimum. There also would be an additional charge of $50 if the drills are returned plugged from drilling in wet soil. The contract asks that the drill be returned in the condition it was rented. The drills can be used with your own tractor. The district has a 1988 Vermeer 10 grain drill and a 2002 Great Plains 10 grain drill. It is necessary to have the soil dry before planting. The district has 2 men available to deliver the drill to your farmplace and then they will pick it up when you have finished using the drill. There is nocharge to the producer for this service. In 2013, the Great Plains drill planted 336.3 acres on 20 farms. The Vermeer drill planted 38.4 acres on 5 farms. If anyone is interested in renting one of the grain drills, you may contact the district office at 515-532-2165, Ext. 3.

Office staff Front row, left to right – Connie Roys, District Conservationist; and Emily Funk, Private Lands Conservationist/Nutrient Reduction Specialist. Back row, left to right – Bruce Voigts, Nutrient Reduction Specialist; and Colleen Trees, State Secretary.

Scholarships awarded The Wright County Soil and Water Conservation District awards scholarships annually to area students. There are 4 scholarships available to graduating high school seniors. The candidates should be pursuing goals in natural resources, soil conservation, agriculture technology, education or business; bio-fuels or biotechnology programs; sustainable energy technology; environmental science, studies, or law; wind energy; or turbine technology. There are also 2 scholarships available to college students. The criteria for these scholarships is the student must be originally from Wright County; have completed at least one year of college; and maintain a full-time status while enrolled. The application forms for the scholarships can be obtained from your high school guidance counselor or contact the SWCD office at 515-532-2165, Ext 3. The high school scholarship applications are due into the district office by April 18 and the college applications are due in September. In 2013, the Wright Soil & Water Conservation District Scholarship #1, in the amount of $250, was awarded to Luke Maxheimer of Clarion. Luke is the son of Pam Harklau and Dave Maxheimer. He is a freshman at Iowa State University majoring in Business – Accounting.

The Wright Soil & Water Conservation District Scholarship #2, in the amount of $250, was awarded to Nick Christensen. Nick is the son of Kevin and Heather Christensen. He is a freshman at Iowa Lakes Community College majoring in Ag Production. The Frank and Phyllis Tourtelotte Memorial Scholarship, in the amount of $250, was awarded to Stephanie Steiner. Stephanie is the daughter of Rob and Becky Steiner. She is a freshman at Buena Vista University majoring in Business Administration. The Carol McLaughlin Memorial Scholarship, in the amount of $250, was awarded to Alanna Hill of Eagle Grove. Alanna is the daughter of Marla Hill. She is a freshman at Iowa State University majoring in Business. The Carol McLaughlin Memorial College Scholarship, in the amount of $250, was awarded to Crystal Peil of Belmond. Crystal is the daughter of Steve and Julie Peil. She is attending Minnesota State University in Mankato. She is majoring in Management with an emphasis in Human Resources. If any students are interested in any of the available scholarships, please contact Colleen at the district office in Clarion at 1133 Central Ave. W. or call 515-532-2165, Ext 3.

$2000.00 300.00 $ 2300.00 $641.55 42.05 24.00 46.31 159.35 149.24 850.00 387.50 $2300.00 0.00

STATE COST SHARE Wright County has been given allocations for use in cost sharing on permanent soil and water conservation practices. The following is a breakdown of 2013 practices for which certifications have been submitted to the State Division of Soil Conservation for payment and paid. FY 2013 – Cost Share Allocation on 7/1/12 $11,470.00 Amount Obligated/Spent 11,467.72 Funds Unobligated - $ 2.28 Recalled by DSC – 6/30/13 FY 2013 – REAP – Practices Allocation on 7/1/12 Slippage from practices Funds Unobligated Recalled by DSC 6/30/13

$6,653.13 1,857.06 $8,510.19

FY 2013 – REAP – Forestry/Native Grasses Allocation on 7/1/12 Obligated Amount/Spent Funds Unobligated - Recalled by DSC 6/30/13

$2,217.71 1,950.00 $267.71

Wright SWCD – 2 interseeder drills The 2 interseeder drills that the district has available were used on 374.7 acres in the 2013 calendar year. There were 20 producers that used the Great Plains drill and 5 producers used the Vermeer drill. Funds received for drill usage Expenses for parts; labor; shed rent; hours & mileage for hauling drills Total district profit from drills Cetera Investment Services - District Account Beginning Balance on January 1, 2013 Increase in account value Funds Used for 4 Scholarships Ending Balance on December 31, 2013

$3,901.00 $1,605.63 $2,295.37 $ 14,335.85 1,999.14 1,000.00 15,334.99

Coca-Cola Grant through Wright SWCD Initial Allocation received on 7/1/12 $56,440.00 Expenses: Salary and benefits for Coordinator position $30,000.00 Minolta SPAD Chlorophyll Meter $2,600.00 Iowa Soybean Association for fall nitrate $18,500.00 stalk testing & nutrient management plan development Education; Outreach; and Drainage Water $2,400.00 management demonstration project Iowa State Extension – use of corn nitrogen $2,940.00 rate calculator; producer meetings Balance on 12/31/13 - $0.00

Commissioners thank conservation supporters

The Wright County Soil and Water Conservation District commissioners say “Thank You” for the continuous support given by State and Federal Agency personnel, the area newspaper editors and staff, the farm owners and operators, the cooperating county agencies, and the schools. We are fortunate to have three good newspapers – Belmond Independent, Wright County Monitor, and Eagle Grove Eagle – to cover the entire area. With their continuous coverage, we are able to accomplish the numerous conservation programs that are available. A special thank you to the personnel at the newspaper offices for publishing this annual report. This takes many hours of work to obtain the advertising sponsors for this report and also the many hours of layout by the staff. We would like to thank all of the advertisers who pay for this publication. This report allows everyone to see how their tax money is used to better the environment we live in. Thank you to DSC/IDALS (Department of Soil Conservation/Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship) and the NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service) for their help with staff, equipment, and supplies. For the cost share money we use for “Helping People Help the Land”, and for the training to staff and commissioners. Each program is successfully completed by the teamwork of everyone involved and we thank you for your support. Thank you to our owners and operators this fiscal year. We appreciate the confidence you have in us to serve your needs. We look forward to working with you in the coming year.


Wright County Soil & Water Conservation District Report • Thursday, March 27, 2014

Boone River Watershed: Oxbow restorations By Emily Funk Private lands conservationist You may be asking yourself what is an oxbow? An oxbow is a meander of a stream that has been cut off from a stream. Over time the oxbow will fill up with sediment and loose the benefits they provide. Some benefits an oxbow provides are floodwater storage, removal of pollutants in water, habitat for fish and wildlife, a watering source for livestock and critical habitat for a rare and endangered minnow, the Topeka Shiner. The Nature Conservancy is partnering with local Soil and Water Conservation districts ( Wright, Kossuth, Humboldt, Hamilton), Iowa Soybean Association, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Fishers and Farmers, Sand county Foundation and the National Fish

and Wildlife Foundation to identify and restore 2-3 oxbows in the Boone River Watershed. Restoration of the oxbows is done be excavating soil and resloping the banks. The actual oxbow is usually only about ¼ of an acre and located in low lying wet areas that are not usually in production. There are currently 5 oxbows restored along White Fox Creek totaling 2 acres of land and providing water holding capacity of 3.7 million gallons. A properly restored oxbow can remove 45% of the nitrates in the water entering the oxbow. Questions? Contact: Karen Wilke: Boone River Project Director with The Nature Conservancy (515)832-2916 ext.112 or Emily Funk: Private Lands Conservationist with Kossuth, Humboldt, Hamilton and Wright Co. SWCD (515)-295-5156 ext.119.

Cost-Share Assistance for waterways and structures Up to 50 percent Cost-share is available through state costshare funds and up to 90 percent cost-share is available through the conservation reserve program to shape and install a waterway. The normal rate through CRP is 50 percent, but they have added an extra 40 percent as an incentive payment. You also get a sign-up incentive payment of up to $100 per acre for signing up a new waterway. This is a one-time payment. Our list of projected projects for this spring and next fall is very high. The first step in receiving assistance is to come in and visit with one of the staff at NRCS. NRCS will do a survey and design of the waterway. We will then have the commissioners and the county committee approve the application. Then we will have a pre-construction meeting with the contractor and landowner or operator before work can be started. Following construction, we will do a final check out to make sure it meets NRCS specifications.

There is also cost share assistance available through State Cost Share which includes: pasture and hayland management; grassed waterways; terraces; grade stabilization structures; and water sediment control basins. These permanent practices can receive cost share for 50 percent of the actual or estimated cost, whichever is less. Grassed waterways and pasture and hayland management have a ten year maintenance agreement. The grade stabilization structure; terrace; and water & sediment control basin have a twenty year maintenance agreement. There is also cost share available for no-till; ridge-till; and strip till – these tillage practices are offered as a one time incentive payment that the district will pay $10/acre. If you would like more information on waterways or any other practices, feel free to come into our office before construction season to discuss your options or call us at 1-515-532-2165, Ext 3.

Poster contest winner Pictured is Sarah Wilson, who was the 2nd place winner in the Wright SWCD poster contest for Division 4 (grades 7-9).

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Nutrient reduction strategy opportunities in Boone RiverEagle Creek watershed

Wright SWCD Commissioners and assistant Front row, left to right – Larry Severson, Kathy Nielsen, and Greg Soenen. Back row, left to right – James Rowen, Heather Christensen, and Steve Janssen. Photo by Matt Voigts

By: Bruce Voigts Nutrient Reduction Specialist Farmers and landowners in the Eagle Creek Watershed in Wright County now have opportunities to participate in nutrient loss reduction programs through the Boone River Nutrient Management Initiative. The Wright County Soil and Water Conservation District received funding through the Iowa Water Quality Initiative for a three-year demonstration project, which will provide educational programs and cost sharing for farmers within the watershed who want to try nutrient loss reduction practices

outlined in the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy. Farmers who want to participate will receive help with replicated strip-trials; stalk nitrate testing, and water monitoring. Cost share incentives are available for a number of conservation practices such as strip-till, cover crops, bioreactors, wetland construction, nitrogen inhibitors, oxbow construction, drainage water management and others. Contact the Wright County SWCD/NRCS office in Clarion at 532-2165, ext 3 and ask for Bruce Voigts, Nutrient Reduction Specialist

Poster contest available to area students Each year, the Wright County Soil & Water Conservation District along with the Conservation Districts of Iowa (CDI) and Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance Company sponsor a poster contest for area students. They use a different theme each year and the posters should reflect the contest theme. This year the theme is “Dig Deeper – Mysteries In The Soil”. Posters should be made on regular poster paper with the size 8.5 x 11 up to 22 x 28 inches only. There may be any type of medium used on the posters. Competition is open to all children who are residents of Iowa from kindergarten through 12th grade. The age groups are broken

down into 5 divisions. The posters should be completed and turned into the SWCD office by April 18. Judging of the local posters is done by the Wright SWCD Board of Commissioners and then the first place posters in each division are forwarded on to the Regional Director. The information has been forwarded to the area schools so if your child is interested in drawing a poster and has not received the information from their school, please contact Colleen Trees at the Wright County Soil and Water Conservation District at 1133 Central Ave. W, Clarion or call 515532-2165, Ext. 3.

On Friday, February 28, the Boone River Watershed Nutrient Management Initiative hosted a kick-off meeting for the project. The meeting was held at Hagie’s in Clarion and was attended by 66 landowners and agency partners that are involved in the project. The initiative is one of eight nutrient reduction initiatives in Iowa and focuses on the Eagle Creek and Prairie Creek watersheds, primarily in Wright and Kossuth counties.

A different kind of “healthcare” taking root in Iowa By Jay T. Mar State Conservationist There’s a game-changing movement coming from right here in Iowa. It has broad implications regarding the vitality of our farms, the health of our planet and our ability to feed more than 9 billion people worldwide who will be coming to dinner by the year 2050. This movement continues to grow thanks to a different kind of healthcare—the health and care of our precious soil. Previously, we looked at soil in terms of its “quality.” But as one farmer observed recently, “Anything can have quality, but only living things can have health.” Focusing on “soil health” versus “soil quality” reflects a fundamental shift in the way we now care for our nation’s soil. Practices like no-till, cover crops, rotational grazing, and crop rotations are helping to improve the health and vitality of our soils. Talk to any Iowa farmer working to improve the health of the soil and he or she will likely tell you that the “ah-ha” moment came upon the realization that soil isn’t just an inert growing medium. In fact, the soil is alive and teaming with trillions of microorganisms and fungi that are the foundation of an elegant, symbiotic ecosystem. This new reality has quietly spawned an agricultural revolution. Increasingly, more and more

producers in Iowa and throughout the nation are harvesting a wide range of production, environmental, sustainability and business benefits—on and off the farm—by improving soil health. USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service recently launched a new education and awareness campaign titled “Unlock the Secrets in the Soil” to help more farmers and ranchers discover the basics and benefits of soil health— and to encourage the adoption of soil health-improving practices like cover cropping, no-till and diverse crop rotations. Last year, Iowa farmers grew an estimated 300,000 cover crop acres – a 300 percent increase over 2012. NRCS is committed to assist these soil health pioneers—and to help make their farms more productive, resilient and profitable along the way. As we face mounting production, climate and sustainability challenges, we believe there is no better time to make a long-term commitment to improve the health of our living and life-giving soil. The promise of our future depends on it. Jay T. Mar is the State Conservationist for USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service in Iowa. For more information on soil health visit www.nrcs.usda.gov

600,000

Contact John Kirkpatrick or Josh Gerig


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Thursday, March 27, 2014 • Wright County Soil & Water Conservation District Report

Cover crops: New online tool

Wright SWCD poster winners Students who were winners in the Wright SWCD poster contest included, from left to right: Jewelz Gilliland, 1st place in Division 3 (grades 4-6); Selena Padilla, 1st place in Division 4 (grades 7-9) and 1st place in Region 2; Madison Bice, 3rd place in Division 4 (grades 7-9); Alecia Anderson, 2nd place in Division 3 (grades 4-6); and Diane O’Hern, their art teacher who encourages the students to draw and submit a poster entry for the district contest each year. Photo by Matt Voigts

A new online tool is available to help farmers select the right cover crop for their operations. The Cover Crop Decision Tool was developed by the Midwest Cover Crops Council to help farmers select cover crop species based on their main crops, available planting windows and what they needed from the cover crop such as stopping erosion, livestock forage or to control weeds. Last year, for example, farmers throughout the Midwest were urged to plant fall cover crops as a way to keep nitrogen in the soil that was not used by crops during the droughtstressed growing season. The tool is specific to region, soil drainage class and includes information about a variety of cover crop species; non-legumes such as oats, buckwheat, barley, triticale and winter wheat; brassicas such as radish, oilseed and turnip; legumes including alfalfa, red clover and cowpeas; and five mixes. The tool suggests cover crop species and potential planting date windows that usually provide good establishment and growth, based on 30-year average frost dates in the user’s county. To find the Cover Crop Decision Tool, go to www.mccc. msu.edu/selectorINTRO.html If you would you like more information on cover crops and cost share assistance that is available, please call the NRCS office at 515532-2165, ext 3, in Clarion.

Equal Employment Opportunity

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, and where applicable, sex, marital status, familial status, parental status, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, political beliefs, reprisal, or because all or a part of an individual’s income is derived from any public assistance program. (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs.) Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.) should contact USDA’s TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TDD). To file a complaint of discrimination write to USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice) or (202) 720-6382 (TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Students serve meal at Wright SWCD Banquet The Wright County Soil and Water Conservation District recently held their Annual Awards Banquet on February 27 at the Clarion-Goldfield High School. The banquet is held each year to honor selected producers, landowners, and students for their accomplishments in promoting soil and water

conservation work in Wright County. The meal was prepared by Mrs. Angie Charlson, Clarion-Goldfield FFA Instructor, and several of her high school students. This year, they planned, fixed, and served the meal for the 44 guests in attendance. This picture shows Mrs.

Charlson and her students who prepared and served the meal at the district awards banquet. The Wright SWCD board of commissioners would like to thank Mrs. Charlson and the students for their hard work and effort in helping make our banquet a success.

These Clarion-Goldfield FFA students and their advisor planned; prepared; and served the delicious meal at the awards banquet. Pictured, from left to right, are: Emma Konvalinka; Megan Christensen; Alex Keller; Megan Lund; Zach Leist; Clay Ellis; Megan Zweifel; Sam Jergenson; Breanne Ellis; and Mrs. Angie Charlson. Photo by Matt Voigts

Iowa Water Quality Initiative 2014 Legislative Report

Submitted by Matt Lechtenberg IDALS/DSC Water Quality Coordinator Statewide Practices Cost Share: In August 2013, $2.8 million was made available through all 100 Soil and Water Conservation Districts to help implement conservation practices through the Water Quality Initiative (WQI). After an initial $1.8 million was offered and subsequently obligated in less than a week, a supplement of $1 million was added to the fund and this additional funding spoken for within another week. The strong level of commitments showcased by Iowa farmers volunteering to try something new on their farms to help water quality is a testament to the level of engagement farmers are ready to take on these issues. Over 1,000 farmers committed an additional $2.8 million in landowner match to help implement these practices. Each landowner or farmer could apply for up to 160 acres of cost-shared practice. Some of the applicants used the practice on more acres than they applied for cost share. Practice Information: The practices offered through the WQI Statewide initiative were selected because of their ability

to be implemented in a short time frame and thereby providing a water quality benefit in 2013. The statewide approach gave farmers an opportunity to try these practices for the first time. Offering a portion of WQI funding statewide allowed each county to participate. This funding, along with a targeted approach, engaged more farmers and landowners in the process. Year-end totals of fall established practices through the WQI Statewide cost-share program was over 88,000 acres of cover crops and over 2,000 acres of N inhibitor. Iowa Leaders in Conservation: Local farmer One of the Iowa Leaders in Conservation is from Wright County. Eagle Grove farmer Tim Smith lives on the family Century Farm. His farmland sits in the Boone River Watershed, where the water flows downstream to the Des Moines River, then to the Mississippi River, and eventually to the Gulf of Mexico. Tim’s participation in a USDA conservation program through the Mississippi River Basin Initiative (MRBI) funding is designed to reduce nutrient and sediment loading into local waterways and is also improving the health of his soils. He is using fewer disturbing activities such as deep tillage, overfertilizing, and keeping living roots in the ground longer through cover crops. Tim shifted his tillage system from ridge-till which provides some, but not optimal soil erosion control – to strip-till, a less soil disturbing method where a farmer plants into a narrow-width tilled strip that is

typically created in the fall. Tim says that the most noticeable thing is all of the earthworm holes. “When you till the soil, you destroy that pattern,” he says, “Our soil is not a chemistry lab. Without beneficial soil organisms, NP&K are unable to reach the crop through roots. It takes micro-organisms digesting the nutrients to make them available to the plant to be used.” In the fall of 2011, Tim aerial applied cover crops for the first time, perhaps the most dramatic change to his farm, he says, since his father traded his moldboard plow for a chisel plow. Like many Iowa farmers, Tim applies cereal rye which overwinters, sequesters nitrogen, and helps reduce soil erosion. “I like cereal rye because you can see it coming up quickly,” he said. “It grows well. I think that’s where farmers should start with cover crops.” In the future, Tim says he would like to try tillage radishes or a cover crops mix to gain even more soil health benefits such as water infiltration. “I would like to have seed on hand to be flexible, depending on weather conditions,” he said. The practices that Tim has installed through MRBI (Mississippi River Basin Initiative) are not limited to improving water quality. Tim is encouraged by the way striptill, nutrient management and cover crops are improving soil conditions, and helping to produce more dependable row crop yields through challenging weather conditions. Find out more information about the Water Quality Initiative or other Iowa Leaders in Conservation at CleanWaterIowa.org


Conservation tab 4 pages