Poll shows majority of Iowa farmers support Nutrient Reduction Strategy

Riparian buffers are one way to protect waterways from agriculture run off such as this one on Bear Creek in Story County, Iowa. (Merrill College of Journalism Press Release/Flickr)
Riparian buffers are one way to protect waterways from agricultural runoff such as this one on Bear Creek in Story County, Iowa. (Merrill College of Journalism Press Release/Flickr)

Nick Fetty | June 12, 2015

A recent poll by researchers at Iowa State University shows that many Iowa farmers are aware of the Nutrient Reduction Strategy and support its objectives.

The Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll has been conducted each year since 1982 and is “the longest-running survey of its kind in the nation.” The 2014 edition asked farmers about their awareness and knowledge of the 2013 nutrient reduction strategy, their awareness and concern about nutrient-related water quality issues, attitudes toward the strategy, and perceived barriers to action. Surveys were sent out to 2,218 farmers in February 2014 and 1,128 (51 percent) replied with usable data.

Just over 20 percent of farmers surveyed identified as “not at all knowledgeable” in regard to the nutrient reduction strategy while 21.6 percent identified as “knowledgeable” or “very knowledgeable.” More than 75 percent of farmers either agreed (60.8 percent) or strongly agreed (15.3 percent) that agriculture is impacting Iowa water quality. When asked if they think nutrients from Iowa farms contribute to hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico, just over 50 percent said they either agree (40.9 percent) or strongly agree (11.2 percent) while roughly 40 percent said they were uncertain. Nearly 85 percent of respondents said they agree (63.3 percent) or strongly agree (20.3 percent) that “Iowa farmers should do more to reduce nutrient and sediment run-off into waterways.”

“Viewed as a whole, the results of the 2014 Farm Poll indicate that substantial progress has been made in raising farmers’ awareness of the Nutrient Reduction Strategy. This is a critical step. However, the challenge going forward will be to translate awareness and positive attitudes into much more widespread use of conservation practices and farming systems that lead to sustained progress toward nutrient loss reduction goals,” the poll’s authors concluded.

The poll was collaboration by the ISU Extension and Outreach, the Iowa Agriculture and Home Economics Experiment Station, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, and the Iowa Agricultural Statistics Service.

On the Radio: Iowa Nutrient Management Conservation Practice Standard 2013

Photo by eutrophication&hypoxia; Flickr

This week’s On the Radio segment covers the newly updated Iowa Nutrient Management Conservation Practice Standard. Listen to the audio below, or continue reading for the transcript.

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Practical Farmers of Iowa Gather for Field Day

Photo by mlhauge; Flickr

In conjunction with the Scattergood Friends School, the Ames based Practical Farmers of Iowa  group hosted an education field day last week. Tomoko Ogawa, of Ames, a staff member with Practical Farmers of Iowa, said the goal of the nonprofit is to facilitate research among farmers.

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Northey: Funds Available for Water Quality Practices

Photo by Gage Skidmore; Flickr

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey announced  that cost share funds are available to help farmers install nutrient reduction practices.  The initial practices that are prioritized for funding this fall are cover crops, no-till or strip till, or using a nitrification inhibitor when applying fertilizer. Continue reading

Weekend rainfall helped soybean crops

Photo by silk cut, Flickr.

Iowa’s recent rainfall probably wasn’t sufficient to reverse the drought damage to the state’s corn crop, but farmers say that Saturday’s storms may have spelled hope for soybean crops.

John Airy Jr., a farmer from Linn County said his soybeans received about an inch and a half of rain on Saturday, and the effect was almost immediate and may have increased his harvest yield by as much as 10 percent.

“The next day, you could see the plants that were stressed, the ones on the hilltops, they just looked better. You could see it (rain) perked them up a little bit,” said Airy.

For more information, read the full article at the Gazette.