Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey announced yesterday that the 2017 sign-up period is open for statewide cost-share funds to help farmers install nutrient reduction practices.
The program has been popular with farmers interested in adding additional practices to their land. Practices eligible for this funding are cover crops, no-till or strip till, or using a nitrification inhibitor when applying fertilizer.
“Iowa farmers are continuing to take on the challenge of improving water quality and this program has played an important role in helping farmers get started with a new practice on their farm focused on protecting water quality. We have seen thousands of farmers try cover crops on hundreds of thousands of acres through this program,” Northey said. “We were excited to have funds available again this year and encourage farmers to contact their local Soil and Water Conservation District to learn more and potentially sign up to participate.”
The cost-share rate for farmers planting cover crops is $25 per acre ($15 per acre for past cover crop users). For farmers trying no-till or strip till, it is $10 per acre. Farmers using a nitrapyrin nitrification inhibitor when applying fall fertilizer can receive $3 per acre.
Any farmer not already utilizing these practices will receive priority consideration for this assistance. Farmers interested in cover crops, but who have already used this practice on their farm, also are eligible for this funding, but at a reduced rate of $15 per acre. Farmers are only eligible for cost-share on up to 160 acres. The funds will be made available in July, but farmers can immediately start submitting applications through their local Soil and Water Conservation District office.
Farmers are still encouraged to visit their local Soil and Water Conservation District office to inquire about additional opportunities for cost-share funding through other programs offered at their local SWCDs.
“As farmers are busy planting, we wanted to get the announcement out as soon as possible so our staff and partners can prepare to sign-up interested farmers if there are rain delays or as field work is wrapped up,” Northey said.
The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship received $9.6 million for the Iowa Water Quality Initiative in fiscal 2017. These funds will allow the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship to continue to encourage the broad adoption of water quality practices through statewide cost-share assistance, as well as more intensive work in targeted watersheds.
In the last four years of the program, more than 3,750 farmers have put in new nutrient reduction practices on more than 480,000 acres. The state provided about $9.4 million in cost-share funding to help farmers try a water quality practice for the first time and Iowa farmers provided more than $9.6 million of their own resources to support these water quality practices.