Inspiration from Conservation Leaders

"Enthusiasm is common. Endurance is rare." - Angela Duckworth, Grit I was reminded of the above quote yesterday when I attended the Iowa Farm Environmental Leadership award ceremony at the Iowa State Fair. This is an award organized by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship  that recognizes those who go above and beyond on their farms to address soil health and water quality. These are individuals who are not only enthusiastic about conservation, but also work to incorporate it into their farms. In Iowa, we are not short of enthusiasm for efforts to protect and build soil health as well as protect our public waterways. What is more rare are those who are standout individuals who take extraordinary measures to protect the land. This is seen among those who have won the IFEL award. They are not farming for the present, but farming for the vitality of their ecological and social communities for the future. Previous research shows that farmers are motivated by...
Read More
One Stop Cover Crop Service Now Available

One Stop Cover Crop Service Now Available

We take the hassle out of building your soil health Prairie Rivers of Iowa, in partnership with the Boone and Story County Soil and Water Conservation Districts, is taking the hassle out of fall cover crop application. You tell us what you want for your fields, and we’ll book the service and buy the seed. You’ll receive only one bill in the end, and hopefully, some peace of mind. We are providing both pre-harvest and post-harvest application options primarily with cereal rye and oats. Farmers will have the option of an airplane, highboy applicator, or drill for application. Other mixes can be made and applied upon request.  By providing numerous options, we intend to provide a service that fits the farmer and the goals they would like to achieve within their farm operation. “As a farmer, I know that adding something new to the farm operation can be challenging,” says Jeremy Gustafson, Chairman for the Boone County SWCD. “It is our goal to...
Read More
Conservation Champions around the Squaw Creek Watershed

Conservation Champions around the Squaw Creek Watershed

This spring, planting season took off in the State of Iowa as the temperatures warmed up in the soils. We are seeing a multitude of conservation practices at work in the Squaw Creek watershed with each farmer implementing what works best on their land. Strip Tillage One farmer hard at work out in the field is Jeremy Gustafson, a diversified farmer who grows corn and soybeans along with raising hogs in the Squaw Creek Watershed. Gustafson, a Soil and Water Conservation District Commissioner for Boone County, implements strip-tillage as a conservation practice to protect his soil from erosion.  Gustafson comes from a multi-generational family farm and has been managing his farm with conservation in mind for over ten years. Strip tillage is a conservation tillage system in which only strips of soil are worked before planting. This allows for the soil to warm up and dry out for planting. Seeds are then planted directly into the strips. This practice improves the soil health and water quality...
Read More

Growing Partnerships in the Squaw Creek Watershed

 “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” -Henry Ford I open this post with this quote because, as we approach the one-year anniversary of the Watershed and Waterways Program at Prairie Rivers of Iowa, I am reminded of the value of partnerships when I talk to folks in the watershed. No single conservation practice is going to tackle our soil health and water quality impairments. No individual farmer, advocate, or citizen can do all of the work. Instead, we can achieve many great things when we work together as a team with the appropriate conservation tools in our toolbox. We have been working with several partners over the last several weeks to reach out to farmers, landowners, and the watershed community on the value that conservation practices add to our farms and our landscape as a whole. These efforts include a wide range of outreach efforts, such as: Making cost-share and program information available in their local offices Developing...
Read More

Why We Need Healthy Watersheds

A healthy watershed is important for a variety of reasons. Healthy soils and pristine waters support agriculture production, provide habitat for wildlife, and create outstanding recreational opportunities for Iowa residents and visitors to enjoy year-round. The health of a watershed significantly relies on how water flows through the landscape and interacts with the soil, and then enters our water system. When water travels through the landscape, it has the ability to carry excess nutrients, chemicals, other pollutants, and even the soil itself. This impairs the water quality and the ability of the landscape to support wildlife habitats, recreational opportunities, and resilient soils for agriculture production that is important to the people of the State of Iowa. Every place in the watershed is important, both urban and rural, because they affect one another. Whether you’re a landowner, farmer, or urban resident, we are all capable of playing a part in improving the Squaw Creek Watershed. If you live in the city, installing...
Read More

Cost-Share Available for Conservation Practices in Squaw Creek

(AMES, IOWA) – Prairie Rivers of Iowa is working with the local Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) offices to provide funding for cost-share for conservation practices to farmers in the Squaw Creek Watershed. Funding for this effort is in cooperation with the Water Quality Initiative (WQI) from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and support from local partners. The Squaw Creek Watershed demonstration project is providing funding for farmers located in the watershed specifically for in-field practices, such as cover crops and no till at the state-wide WQI flat rate cost share rate, as well as fifty-percent cost share for edge of field practices, including saturated buffers. “The best use of these practices can vary from farm-to-farm and farmer-to-farmer,” said Hanna Bates, Watershed Coordinator for Prairie Rivers of Iowa. “By working with the conservation districts, it is our intent to build relationships with farmers and find what practices will work best for them while having an overall positive impact...
Read More
Many from the Public attend the Squaw Creek Coalition Public Meeting

Many from the Public attend the Squaw Creek Coalition Public Meeting

On June 29th the Squaw Creek Watershed Coalition informational meeting was held at the Ames Public Library in the evening. Approximately 20 people came from the surrounding community to learn more about the Squaw Creek Watershed Management Plan.  Individuals from the community represented many different segments from the surrounding area, including Iowa State University students, urban residents, and farmers. Attendees asked questions about plan details and how Prairie Rivers of Iowa will assist in improving water quality in the watershed over the upcoming year. Erv Klaas, Vice President of the Prairie Rivers of Iowa Board of Directors, informed the public at the meeting about the current state of the water within our watershed and presented a summary of the Squaw Creek Watershed Management Plan. Key components of the plan are to increase the awareness and understanding of the watershed, improve the water quality, and to promote the practices that individuals can use to help improve our water quality. You can read the full...
Read More