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Serving: IA
planter in field
TEAMING UP: Planting cover crops along with no-till will remove a significant amount of nitrate from groundwater.

Achieving nutrient reduction goals

No-till is the real solution to achieving soil conservation and water quality goals.

By Jerry Crew

I’ve always resented the fact almost everyone continues to promote the old adage that no-till is merely another tool in the toolbox, and we’re told “one size doesn’t fit all.” They use the example that the same diet doesn’t work best for all dieters. While I agree we may need different diets, lets figure out why the need for a diet. We need a diet because we are too fat. We eat too much. If we eat less, we will lose weight, and by my reasoning, this is “one size.”

Soil sediment is the No. 1 pollutant in Iowa surface waters. Soil sediment leaves farm fields because of soil erosion caused by tillage. If every acre was no-tilled, soil erosion will be severely curtailed — once again, “one size.”

A letter to the editor in the February Wallaces Farmer written by John Clayton says we need to establish a property tax credit for cover crops. While I may agree to this concept, I say tax credits for using no-till would be more productive and best for the environment. I don’t agree with his reasoning. He says we need cover crops to solve the problems created by climate change.

I don’t believe in climate change. Does anyone who believes in climate change ever wonder why the name has changed from global warming to climate change? If the theory is that an increase in greenhouse gases allows less heat to escape the Earth’s atmosphere, temperatures can only rise. Average worldwide temperatures from the 1998-99 through 2012-13 era stayed constant.

Greenhouse gases kept increasing, but did the pseudo-scientists who buy into the political correctness of climate change theory? Of course not! Those who are advancing the climate change notion say let’s change the name from global warming to climate change, so we can cover anything the weather does. What chutzpah! These people think mere humans can impact our Creator.

Also, in the February Wallaces Farmer is an article “Ag secretary talks conservation” — an interview of Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig by Jackie Comito of Iowa Learning Farms. Secretary Naig discusses the need to reach the goals set by the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy. He talks about almost every kind of conservation practice: edge-of-field buffers, bioreactors, saturated buffers, cover crops and more.

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship believes its payment of $25 per acre is the way to encourage adoption of cover crops. I completely disagree.

The $25 covers the complete cost of seed and seeding for first-time users of cover crops. If the purpose is to encourage continued planting of cover crops without subsidies, the farmer needs some “skin” in the game. If the payment was cut in half, twice as many farmers could receive benefits.

In the article, Naig never mentions the only absolute in soil conservation, which is no-till. Soil erosion remains the No. 1 problem in conservation, and since the cause of erosion is tillage, elimination of tillage is needed if we are to achieve a permanent solution. Yes, there is one best practice if we are serious about reaching the water quality improvement goals of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy. It’s called no-till!

Crew is a longtime no-till farmer and soil conservation district commissioner in Clay County in northwest Iowa.




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