Soil and Water Conservation Week Partner Spotlight: Heartland Cooperative

Soil and Water Conservation Week Partner Spotlight: Heartland Cooperative

In honor of Soil and Water Conservation Week, we have interviewed some of our partner organizations for the Watersheds & Waterways Program in order to share more about their organization and our partnership with them. Heartland Cooperative Jason Danner, Central Regional Sales Manager Heartland Cooperative is a full service, value added cooperative that has been serving farmers and landowners for over the past 30 years. The cooperative’s focus is within four main departments: grain, agronomy, feed, and energy; each serving a purpose in helping farmers produce and market profitably. With precision ag-grid sampling and varied rate technology while seeding and applying fertilizer, Prairie Rivers of Iowa is proud to partner with Heartland Cooperative while they uphold exceptional conservation messages with their customers. Heartland Coop’s effort to promote conservation programming to their customers is done in a variety of successful ways. With four technical service providers on staff, the cooperative is able to offer farmers technical expertise in conservation planning and design for a variety...
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Women Caring for the Land Workshop Held in Stanhope

Women Caring for the Land Workshop Held in Stanhope

A group of women from in and around the Squaw Creek Watershed came together to participate in the “Women Caring for the Land” workshop held April 13, 2017 in Stanhope. This workshop, co-sponsored by Prairie Rivers of Iowa and the Women, Food, and Agriculture Network, offered participants the chance to discuss individual farm management practices with local conservationists in a relaxed, peer-to-peer format that fosters learning through hands-on demonstrations. “In order to spread awareness and increase implementation of conservation practices in the watershed, we have utilized tools like the Women Caring for the Land model to target specific groups of landowners in the watershed,” said Kayla Hasper, Watershed Coordinator at Prairie Rivers of Iowa. The morning was spent at the Stanhope Community Center learning about assessing and improving soil health. Jean Eells, owner of E Resources Group, provided a demonstration of a slake test, which measures the stability of soil when it is exposed to a sudden onslaught of water. Another demonstration showed...
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Ames Water Treatment Plant Tour – March 23

Ames Water Treatment Plant Tour – March 23

Through our relations with the City of Ames in our watershed work, Prairie Rivers of Iowa board and staff members got the opportunity on March 23, 2017 to tour the water treatment plant that the city is building on East 13th Street. The Director and Assistant Director of Ames Water and Pollution Control, as well as the Superintendent of the plant and a plant Engineer led the group around the plant in groups. The $75 million plant will continue providing "award-winning" clean drinking water to the citizens of Ames. They showed off the various treatment bays that will treat up to 15 million gallons per day, increasing the capacity from the maximum of 12 million that the expansion to the old plant provided. Drinking water in Ames is from ground water sources, which is in the form of several wells located in the area. The process of water treatment includes cascade aeration, lime softening, chloramination, filtration, and fluoridation. Because the plant is still under construction,...
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Water Quality Monitors, Year 1: Results and Lessons Learned

Water Quality Monitors, Year 1: Results and Lessons Learned

Prairie Rivers of Iowa, along with our partners Story County Conservation and City of Ames, have installed two water quality monitor units in the South Skunk River Watershed. Squaw Creek at Lincoln Way in Ames East Indian Creek at S27 north of Maxwell These units will automatically take samples every month, as well as during periods of higher flows, such as after heavy rains.  As part of our educational efforts, we are making the water quality data collected by these units available to the public. The first year’s data has been analyzed by consultants at Emmons and Oliver, Resources Inc. in this 2016 WQ Summary technical memo.  A summary follows.   This year’s data will help establish a baseline for the annual nutrient loads delivered to downstream waters.  We will continue to refine our estimates of nutrient loading as we improve our measurements of flows in East Indian Creek and measurements of phosphorus during baseflow. Thank you to our partners for a good first year of...
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Watershed Educator Hired

We would like to welcome our newest staff member, Dan Haug. He is the Watershed Educator here at Prairie Rivers of Iowa. Dan grew up in Ames, Iowa, where he became involved in prairie restoration and community-supported agriculture.  In his free time, he enjoys family, playing music, and exploring the outdoors through canoeing and cross-country skiing. He is passionate about involving community members in environmental problem-solving and communicating science to the public. He worked previously at the Wisconsin DNR and holds an M.S. in Water Resources Management from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Dan will be working on the educational component of the Squaw Creek Water Quality Initiative Project, as well as the facilitation and coordination of the Conservation Innovation Grant, which is to fund the development of a Management Plan for the Keigley Branch of the South Skunk River Watershed. Make sure to take a second to introduce yourself to Dan and make him feel welcome! His email address is dhaug@prrcd.org, and as always, feel...
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Greenbelt in the Iowa State University Research Park: A Win for Water Quality

Last evening, Story County Conservation hosted an open house at the Core Facility in the ISU Research Park to share the plans for the greenbelt located in the Research Park that will be eventually linked to a corridor that connects to the High Trestle Trail and Heart of Iowa Trail. This area will be called the Tedesco Environmental Learning Corridor. This project is a partnership that will serve Story County and Iowa in ways never before serviced by bringing county, city, university, and state agencies together to showcase how commercial development and natural resource conservation can by symbiotic. The engineering and design team for this project consists of representatives from Shive-Hattery, Wallace Roberts Todd, Great Ecology, Earthview Environmental, and E-Resources Group. Each of these representatives spoke on their component of the project, which included current state of the site, stream assessments, design and layout of future project, and incorporation of interpretive materials for all ages and backgrounds. The site will include many entry-ways,...
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Guest Blog: The Benefits of Improving Soil Health

The Benefits of Improving Soil Health Erv Klaas, Member of the Board, Squaw Creek Watershed Authority Those of us who work in the field of soil conservation have been promoting the idea of soil health for several years.  The USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service has a national program called “Unlocking the Secrets of the Soil.”   The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship is funding Prairie Rivers work on the Squaw Creek Watershed because the state is interested in improving water quality and reducing the loss of soil nutrients.  County Soil and Water Conservation Districts have worked in partnership with these agencies for decades to reduce soil erosion and improve production on our working lands. There is now ample evidence that globally agricultural soils are generally degraded because of tillage and neglect.  In other words, humans have been mining the soil without regard to sustaining its productivity.  We join with scores of individuals and organizations that are attempting to reverse this trend.  The...
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Conservation Practice Filming: BEHIND THE SCENES

It was a great afternoon on November 17th to meet a farmer out on his land to interview and film his operation! We also stopped by another field on the way back to check out a farmer's field of cover crop mix. This is all part of a video series we have started working on to showcase soil health and water quality work in our area watersheds.   The farmer that we visited with has done many great things in conservation, including 2 CREP wetland sites (pictures below), extended rotation, CRP ground, no-till operation, and cover crops (pictured below).                         The two photos below are of the farmer's wetland sites. One of the wetlands has been studied since its installation in 2007 by a group at Iowa State University. They have concluded that the water flowing from the base of the wetland has significantly lower nutrients than the water of the stream that feeds the wetland. This wetland also slows the water flow down so that...
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Watersheds in the Fall

  The Watersheds & Waterways team has been very active this fall! We have been out in the field with farmers, around the community doing outreach, and meeting with our partner organizations to plan future collaboration.     Conservation Practices:  We had a successful One Stop Cover Crop Service Program with Boone & Story NRCS offices, which provided farmers in the four-county area with technical and financial assistance in a quick and simple system to seed cover crops. We had dozens of participants and seeded over 1600 acres through our programming. We are aware of quite a few other farmers that seed cover crops without taking cost-share dollars, so we know good things are happening to support soil health and water quality! I envision this program growing even stronger next year and our cover crop acres in the Squaw Creek Watershed doubling and even tripling in the next couple of years! We have a denitrifying bioreactor getting installed in the spring in our watershed, and we...
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Intern Spotlight

We are happy to announce that we have two new interns at Prairie Rivers of Iowa! They are both students at Iowa State University and are excited about working for us! Emma Wilson is our new Watershed Education Assistant and Brian Newman is our new Technology Assistant. Read more about them below! Emma joined Prairie Rivers of Iowa in October of 2016 as the Watershed Education Assistant. She is a junior at Iowa State University double majoring in Agricultural Communications and Journalism. Last summer she interned at the Iowa Department of Ag and Land Stewardship, where she sparked a passion for enhancing Iowa’s water quality as well as working with farmers and landowners to assist them in their water quality goals. She will be working closely with the waterways and watersheds team developing communication materials educating on current projects. Emma is originally from a farm near Guthrie Center, Iowa and keeps busy with school activities, photography, running, and helping out on her...
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