NO-TILL AND COVER CROPS
Cedar Rapids Airport Commission will require farmers who lease land from the Eastern Iowa Airport starting next spring to switch to no-till planting and grow off-season cover crops: practices that reduce soil erosion and fertilizer runoff. The Cedar Rapids airport officials will gather data on crop yields, soil health and water quality to share with other Midwest airports, many of which also own farmland.
Data gathered by Cedar Rapids airport officials on yields, soil health and water quality will be shared with other Midwest airports. The goal is to encourage other airports to follow suit and use farmland leases that require farmers renting airport land to use no-till and cover crops.
NEW PROGRAM PLANNED
Cedar Rapids airport is also preparing to launch another soil conservation and water quality program this fall. It will begin Wings2Wings in September, a crowdfunding program seeking to tap the airport’s 1.2 million annual travelers to help pay for local water quality projects. People could contribute when making a coffee or snack purchase at the airport or feed pocket change to meters. Donors will be able to go online and choose which water quality projects get their money.
WORKING WITH FARMERS
The Cedar Rapids Airport has worked with five farmers who lease land from the airport, to prepare the farmers for the switch to using no-till and planting cover crops on the land. Early in 2019, airport officials sent letters to the farmers explaining that when re-bidding leases for 2020 planting season, the farmers will be required to use no-till and cover crops on all cropland acres leased from the airport.
In addition to asking tenants to agree to use no-till and cover crops on land rented from the airport, Cedar Rapids airport officials plan to spend more than $1 million of the airport’s own money through 2023 on grassed waterway reshaping, seeding and tile drainage installation. “In a few years when the land is completely no-till and totally planted to cover crops, and the grassed waterways are complete, this will be farmland the airport can show off and be proud of,” says farm manager John Yeomans.