Iowa ag group outlines ways to reduce waterway pollution

Geese taking off from the Des Moines River in downtown Des Moines. (Phil Roeder/Flickr)
Geese taking off from the Des Moines River in downtown Des Moines. (Phil Roeder/Flickr)
Nick Fetty | October 3, 2014

Members of the Agriculture’s Clean Water Alliance (ACWA) agreed on their 2014 Code of Practice which outlines “guidelines for consistent and responsible application of nutrients” during a meeting in Ankeny earlier this week.

This is a formal agreement for retailers who say they will wait until soil temperatures exceed 50 degrees Fahrenheit before applying anhydrous applications without a nitrification inhibitor. Farmers and other ACWA members can utilize soil temperature and weather maps compiled by the Iowa State University Extension to get accurate readings on soil temperatures. The softer or warmer the soil it is, the easier it retains fertilizer and other nutrients reducing the amount of runoff and waterway pollution.

The Code of Practice is one way farmers can abide with the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy as set fourth by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, and the Iowa State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. The plan outlines scientifically- and technologically-based ways to reduce nitrate and phosphorus levels in Iowa waterways, many of which drain into the Gulf of Mexico and contribute to what is known as the “dead zone.” The goal is to reduce pollution from point and nonpoint sources by 45 percent.

The AWCA consists of 12 ag retailers and three associate members who operate in the Raccoon River and Des Moines River basins. The Ankeny-based organization focuses on the relationship between water, weather, landscape, and farm management. Since 1999 AWCA members have invested more than $1 million to study water quality in the Des Moines and Raccoon Rivers.

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