Home 5 Ag Stories Iowa corn growers enhance water quality and soil health efforts

Iowa corn growers enhance water quality and soil health efforts

Photo by Ben Nuelle

A farm organization furthers their investment in improved water quality. How they plan to do it – by addressing soil health concerns.

Ben Gleason is sustainable program manager for the Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA). Gleason says ICGA recently partnered with CF Industries to enhance the organization’s water quality and soil health efforts.

“We partnered with CF Industries and all of the other partners because water quality, soil health, productivity and profitability go hand-in-hand. These are all extremely important to our members and the state of Iowa,” Gleason said.

The Iowa Corn Growers Association has joined forces with several public and private partners. Gleason says each partnership benefits Iowa corn growers. He believes 4R Plus will help growers obtain the most “bang for their buck” through focusing on retaining nutrients. 

“The 4Rs have been around for a few years,” Gleason said. “It’s a great program to think about your nutrients, how you apply them and when. That certainly has implications for productivity and profitability. Growers like to be as efficient as possible with their inputs. They affect their profitability and also the environment. The more efficient you are with nutrients, the better it is for the soil and water.”

ICGA also recognized the benefits of implementing conservation practices.

“We know from the Nutrient Reduction Strategy that the 4Rs aren’t going to meet our goals for water quality, so that’s where the conservation side comes in,” Gleason said. “Cover crops, buffer strips, reduced tillage and all of the conservation practices we’ve been talking about for soil erosion, soil health and keeping the nutrients for the crop.”

Lastly, Gleason adds protecting and enhancing Iowa’s waters and soils is a shared investment, and Iowa corn growers continue to add to this movement.

“We all drink the water, we all recreate,” Gleason said. “Farmers oftentimes own a private well. What they do on the land, around the well affects what their family drinks. It’s important for everyone to make an investment – whether they live in a city or out on the farm.”