Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig recently announced that farmers and landowners can sign up now for state cost share funds to help adopt soil health and water quality practices. The funding can be used for in-field management practices, including planting cover crops, transitioning acres to no-till or strip-till soil management, or applying a nitrification inhibitor.
"2020 was a record year for engagement in the state's conservation cost-share programs, yet we still have a lot of work to do to reach our soil health and water quality goals," Naig said. "I encourage all farmers and landowners to look for opportunities to add soil health and water quality practices to their fields. This program is a great way to help you get started."
Farmers who are planting cover crops for the first time are eligible for $25 per acre through the cost-share fund. Farmers who have already experienced the benefits of using cover crops and are continuing the practice can receive $15 per acre. Producers transitioning acres to no-till or strip-till are eligible for $10 per acre, and may receive $3 per acre for applying fall fertilizer using a nitrapyrin nitrification inhibitor.
Cost-share funding through the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship is limited to 160 acres per farmer or landowner. The funds will be made available in July, but farmers can start submitting applications immediately through their local soil and water conservation district offices. Farmers are encouraged to call their SWCD offices to inquire about additional cost-share funds available through other sources.
With farmers stewarding more than 2 million acres of cover crops across the state, Iowa continues to be a conservation leader. Last fall, more than 3,500 farmers and landowners enrolled in the cost-share program funded through the Iowa Water Quality Initiative. More than 387,000 acres of cover crops, 11,000 acres of no-till or strip-till, and 6,000 acres of nitrification inhibitors were enrolled in the program in 2020. An estimated $12.7 million of private funding was invested to match the $6.8 million contributed by the state. To learn more about the soil health and water quality projects underway around Iowa, visit cleanwateriowa.org.