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Corn+Soybean Digest

Farmer-led watershed groups offer water quality collaboration

Farmer-led watershed groups offer water quality collaboration
Think different The Hewitt Creek (Iowa) Watershed Improvement Association farmer group is the model for watershed performance-based groups (pdf) across the Corn Belt. For 10 years, 75% of its local watershed farmers have voluntarily collaborated to solve water-quality issues locally before regulators step in. Its grassroots governance, voluntary nature and collective learning style allow farmers to own and solve local water quality problems with scientific measurement tools and feedback. “The watershed group is about 60 farmers taking responsibility for what leaves their farm and learning what they can do to improve things,” says Hewitt Creek Watershed Chairman and farmer Jeff Pape, Dyersville. The group’s main goal is to improve water quality to the point of watersheds being removed from the EPA Impaired Waters list (303d).

Wayne Kramer cut his nitrogen use by 33% and has applied no commercial phosphorus or potassium to his corn since joining his local farmer-led watershed group in Iowa five years ago. The Farley dairyman collaborates with his Hewitt Creek neighbors to voluntarily improve water quality with best management practices.

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