Agriculture’s Clean Water Alliance has reaffirmed its commitment to improving Iowa water quality with the approval of the organization’s work plan by its board of directors. ACWA is comprised of 11 ag retailers and five associate members with business operations in the Des Moines River and Raccoon River watersheds. ACWA is aligned with the 4R Plus program, especially for training agronomy teams on conservation practices.
4R Plus is a nutrient management and conservation education program to better inform farmers, crop advisers and other stakeholders of the benefits of the 4Rs of nutrient stewardship: applying the right nutrient source, at the right rate and right time, and in the right place.
The “Plus” is for using in-field and edge-of-field conservation practices to bolster production, build soil health and improve water quality.
The 4R Plus program, coordinated by The Nature Conservancy, is guided and supported by more than 30 organizations, including agribusinesses, conservation organizations, commodity groups, trade associations, government agencies and academic institutions.
The program is two-pronged with one element being an on-the-ground outreach effort to provide information about 4R nutrient stewardship and conservation practices to farmers, agronomists, watershed coordinators, soil and water conservation district personnel, and others.
The second element is a statewide awareness campaign promoting the benefits of 4R Plus practices through radio spots and ag publications.
Use right combination for each farm
“The ACWA members believe that success takes sound nutrient management and conservation practices working together to make progress toward the goals of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy,” says ACWA Chairman Harry Ahrenholtz. “It makes sense to align with the 4R Plus program to help inform our members and farmer-customers about the nutrient management and conservation options available.”
Greg Wandrey, ag program director for The Nature Conservancy in Iowa and coordinator of the 4R Plus program, believes everyone working together to help Iowa farmers achieve success in finding the right 4R Plus practices for a field or farm is key. He says aligning with ACWA is an important step in the right direction.
“We are pleased ACWA is integrating 4R Plus information into their members’ toolboxes,” Wandrey says. “4R Plus materials will be used in training sessions, farmer meetings, field days and other venues to help inform farmers of the suite of practices available to them. ACWA members influence many acres across the state and aligning with 4R Plus is another sign of their commitment to practices that have multiple benefits.”
Fertilizer dealers, crop advisers key
Ag retailers and agronomists are trusted resources for farmers, Wandrey says. “They provide sound agronomic advice for crop inputs. They can play an important role to help their customers adopt the best nutrient management and conservation practices for their farming operations. Starting with the principles of 4R Plus is a good way to have those conversations.”
Brent Low works for Ag Partners and is ACWA secretary-treasurer. “We hope our customers can increase productivity and enhance soil health on their farms, while reducing soil and nutrient losses and improving water quality,” he says. “The 4R Plus program lays a solid foundation of information about nutrient stewardship and conservation practices critical to help Iowa farmers continue to improve their operations economically, agronomically and environmentally.”
Monitoring water quality efforts
Agriculture’s Clean Water Alliance is an association of ag retailers, such as fertilizer dealers, co-ops, crop consultants and other partners, in the Des Moines River and Raccoon River basins. ACWA focuses on creating a better understanding of how water, weather, landscape and farm management interrelate.
Its work on direct, targeted watershed projects creates a baseline for current conditions and enables measured evaluation of new practices and changes being made.
Since 1999, ACWA has invested more than $1.5 million for water quality monitoring in the Raccoon and Des Moines rivers and their largest tributaries.
4R Plus is a nutrient management and conservation information education program to make farmers aware of practices that bolster production, build soil health and improve water quality in Iowa.
Source: Agriculture’s Clean Water Alliance