Project helps farmers in the Turkey River Watershed boost their bottom-lines

With farming margins tighter than ever, farmers in the Turkey River Watershed can get help identifying areas of their operations dragging their bottom-line.

The Iowa Soybean Association, in conjunction with the Northeast Iowa Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D), is leading a project in the Turkey River Watershed to offer farmers a confidential profitability analysis at a discounted price of 25 cents/acre.

“This assessment can help farmers identify areas that may be netting a financial loss,” said Adam Kiel, ISA operations manager of water resources. “Once the analysis is done, we can discuss how to implement alternative, more profitable practices for each individual farm.”

Often, areas of a field resulting in net loss are the most environmentally sensitive and have a negative impact on water quality and soil health. The analysis provided in this project will demonstrate where conservation practices could be placed and how implementation may benefit the bottom line, either by generating income or reducing loss.

Initially, farmers will work with the Northeast Iowa RC&D, to gather needed information — yield, management and input cost data. Then, ISA will perform the analysis for each farm categorizing acres into three zones: high performing, reasonably performing and nonperforming. Combined, these acres generate the overall picture of the farm and help farmers identify ways to optimize profit. ISA will follow-up with an on-farm consultation allowing farmers to discuss alternative practices that may be more profitable and methods for implementing those practices.

“The project allows us to assess 4,000 acres in the Turkey River Watershed — first come, first serve,” said Ross Evelsizer, watershed planner with the Northeast Iowa RC&D. “We are enrolling farmers now to begin profitability analysis this summer.”

In addition to profitability analysis, area farmers may participate in complementary conservation planning provided by the ISA.

The project is sponsored by the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture and the National Fish and the Wildlife Foundation.

For more information or to participate in profitability analysis, farmers can contact Evelsizer at 563-864-7112 or Kiel at 515-334-1022.


The Iowa Soybean Association ( develops policies and programs that help Iowa’s more than 36,000 soybean farmers expand profit opportunities while promoting environmentally sensitive production using the soybean checkoff and other resources. The association was founded in 1964 and is governed by an elected volunteer board of 21 farmers. It strives to be honest and transparent, fact-based and data driven and committed to environmental stewardship, collaborations and partnerships.

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Watershed Wednesday: Learning from watershed neighbors

IFC helps bring $96.8M to Iowa for new watershed project

Originally appeared in The Gazette, 1/21/2016 by ORLAN LOVE

Iowa flood efforts win big boost

U.S. awards $97 million to improve resiliency from disasters Iowa got a $97 million boost Thursday in its efforts to make the state more resilient to flooding and to reduce nutrient pollution. “This is a big deal,” said Ben Hammes, spokesman for Gov. Terry Branstad, who along with other state and federal officials will disclose details of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development grant at a news conference Friday in Des Moines. Iowa will receive $96,887,177 in National Disaster Resilience Competition funding to support the Iowa Watershed Approach, a holistic watershed-scale program designed to sustain the state’s farm economy while protecting vulnerable communities from flooding and water pollution. “ … Iowa’s modern agriculture landscape has altered the movement of water within the state’s watersheds and reduced the land’s natural resiliency, which impacts peak water flows, flooding, and water quality, especially during extreme weather events,” reads an application for the grant. HUD funding will enable several watersheds to form Watershed Management Authorities, which will develop assessments and plans and implement pilot conservation projects. The grant also will target funding to Dubuque to make homes less vulnerable to periodic flooding along Bee Creek. Hammes said Iowa’s leadership in establishing the Iowa Flood Center and in initiating its Nutrient Reduction Strategy were “big factors” in its prevailing in the competition with 39 other finalists. The expertise and leadership developed through the flood center, established by the Legislature after the devastating 2008 floods, and the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Program, initiated in 2013, “allowed us to be successful in the grant competition,” said Larry Weber, director of the Iowa Flood Center, which helped draft the application. The HUD grant, combined with recent increased conservation allocations from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and proposals to increase state conservation funding, may signal a turning point in efforts to adequately fund Iowa projects for limiting flood damage and nutrient pollution, Hammes said. Iowa does seem to have help coming from multiple directions, Weber said. With funding going to both cities and agricultural areas, “we hope it will decrease tension and encourage cooperation” between rural and urban sectors that have been divided by the Des Moines Water Works’ lawsuit against northwest Iowa tile drainage districts, Hammes said. Iowa is among eight states and five cities awarded a combined $1 billion through the federal program. Iowa’s grant was the fourth highest, topped by $176 million to New York City, $140 million to New Orleans and $121 million to Virginia. Grant details will be announced at the Capitol at 1 p.m. Friday by Branstad, Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds and Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey, who will discuss efforts to help accelerate flood reduction and water quality efforts in key watersheds around the state. Several Eastern Iowa counties — including Iowa, Johnson, Winneshiek, Allamakee, Buchanan, Delaware and Tama — were targeted for resources in the state’s grant application. Those counties experienced excessive losses of topsoil due to disasters, the application said, which led to more sediment and nutrient pollution seeping into waterways. “Because topsoil takes generations to regenerate, the loss of this resource can be considered permanent as the needs of continued production outstrip nature’s ability to replenish the soil,” the application said. Citing long-term data showing increased heavy precipitation and flooding, the state’s application advocates the Iowa Watershed Approach, designed to reduce flood risk, improve water quality, increase resilience, engage stakeholders and improve quality of life and health through a scalable and replicable program.  

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