Iowa farmers have submitted applications for $2.8 million in cost- share funding to help implement new nutrient reduction practices on their farms, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey announced yesterday.

The funds were available to help farmers try new practices targeted at protecting water quality, with a mandate that the state funds could not cover more than 50% of the total cost of the practice. This means Iowa farmers will be providing at least another $2.8 million to support these water quality practices.

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship received applications covering 120,680 acres from 1,096 different farmers seeking to participate in the program. That includes 109,415 acres of cover crops, 7,321 acres of nitrification inhibitor, 2,675 acres of no-till and 1,268 acres of strip-till. Farmers in 97 of 100 Soil and Water Conservation Districts across the state received funding.

“Iowa farmers are very conservation-minded. The tremendous response to this program shows again that they will respond voluntarily when presented with science-based solutions to conservation challenges,” Northey said. “It is exciting that nearly 1,100 farmers were willing to put their own money toward trying new practices aimed at protecting water quality and improving soil health.”

Farmers are encouraged to still reach out to their local Soil and Water Conservation District office as there may be other programs available to help them implement these voluntary, science-based water quality practices on their farm.

Only farmers not already utilizing the practice were eligible to apply for assistance. The program only offered cost-share assistance covering up to 160 acres. The cost-share rate for cover crops was $25/acre, and $10/acre for farmers trying no-till or strip till practices. Farmers using a nitrapyrin nitrification inhibitor when applying fall fertilizer were eligible to receive $3/acre.

“This has been a great kickoff to our water quality initiative and we look forward to continuing to work with farmers to put more practices on the ground to better protect water quality here in Iowa and down-stream as well,” Northey said.

The department received $3 million in one-time funding to support statewide science-based water quality practices over the next five years and has now committed $2.8 million to support these science-based practices this fall.