AG 101: Iowa Waters & What it takes to Keep them Clean

Water is something that we, as humans cannot live without.  There are facts about water that most of us realize such as:  80% of the earth’s surface is covered by water, water is the most common substance found on earth, that 66% of our body is water and our bones are made up of 25% water.  Now for a few facts many may not know: about 750 million people lack access to safe, clean drinking water.  A person can live for 30 days or even longer without food, but can only survive less than 1 week without water.   Water is a very valuable resource and it’s time to be serious about conserving as well as taking care and even improving Iowa’s water.  It wi739px-Mwamongu_water_source_568ll take everyone’s involvement to support and protect our water resources.

What are Iowa farmers doing to help keep Iowa waters clean?  What can individuals do to help?  Farmers in Iowa are engaged and are adapting their farming practices.   Farmers have attended sessions to discuss and learn how help protect Iowa land.  Farmers are taking action by implementing nutrient reduction practices.  Many Iowans now plant cover crops to protect the soil, as well as continue to look for better ways to raise crops and livestock to improve soil health and limit loss of valuable soil nutrients. (Cover crops are crops planted primarily to manage soil erosion, soil fertility and soil quality) .  Crop farmers lead the nation in acres devoted to grassy buffer strips in and around their fields, which reduce soil and nutrient runoff. Wetlands supply a life-sustaining habitat for hundreds of species, buffer towns and cities from floods and storm surges and help reduce erosion.  Many Iowa hog farmers have taken action and made significant changes to prevent possible run-off of manure, then use it for organic fertilizer for crops.

Farmers are willing to take action because the end results help with sustainability for the environment and the farmers retain nutrients in the soil that they need for their farms.Responsible farmers understand the FArm Famimportance of protecting our environment.  They, too are raising families and desire to make changes that positively affect the future of Agriculture in Iowa. We still have a long way to go, with many things yet to be done, but we are on the right path.  Iowa is a national leader in agriculture and is also leading the way in using voluntary, science-based practices to improve water quality. These changes take time to show their effectiveness.  The damage took time to build up and the restoration will also take time to repair.  Wewater all can help to improve the water quality in Iowa.  It starts with individuals looking to make a difference, but as organized communities our efforts will be much stronger and results will be more evident.  Check out our blog post in fall 2014 on Caring for our Water and Soil.  If each of us are willing to take small steps ~ it will eventually lead to big changes.

– Sheri

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