Eastern Iowa farmer sets water quality tone

An eastern Iowa farmer instrumental in improving water quality in his area says others are following his lead.

Jeff Pape no-till farms corn and soybeans in Dubuque County and chairs the Hewitt Creek Watershed project he helped start in 2005.

“We identified certain things that were an issue within our area, which were nitrogen and phosphorous.  We attacked those, and after about seven years of continuously testing the water (in the) summertime (and) above heavy rainfalls, we found a turn to the better.  And it continued improving after seven years.”

He tells Brownfield neighboring farmers were educated on proper nutrient placement and reduced tillage, eventually warming to those and other conservation practices.

“During the process of our watershed, as we were getting low on funding and unsure if we were getting our second grant, we asked the group at the meeting whether or not the practices they learned would be continued if they weren’t being funded.  And when we asked that, everybody in the room raised their hand.  The were going to continue whether they had funding or not.”

He says farmers in the watershed realized they were keeping more money in their pocket through less tillage and fewer commercial nutrient purchases.

Brownfield talked to Pape, the Dubuque County Farm Bureau president, at Iowa Farm Bureau’s 99th annual meeting in Des Moines earlier this week.





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