“Iowa’s soil and water, along with the efficiency of our farmers, is what makes our state so productive. It is vital that we preserve these resources that are responsible for such a significant part of our state’s economy.” — Bill Northey, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture
All food requires resources such as land, water and energy, and today farmers raise more food using fewer resources than ever before. Livestock farmers depend on the land, water and other natural resources for their livelihood and quality of life.
- Iowa is blessed with fertile and abundant farm ground, which is used for growing crops. Iowa farmers believe conservation is very important. Ninety percent of Iowa’s cropland is farmed using some form of conservation practices. Almost 24,000 additional tons of soil are staying on the land and out of Iowa’s rivers, streams and lakes thanks to conservation practices used by farmers and landowners. Iowa’s farmers are mindful of the environment and are implementing new technologies and production practices to keep the environment safe.
- Iowa’s crops are used for a variety of purposes — one of them being feed for livestock. The manure generated by the livestock is used as a natural fertilizer the soil needs to remain productive. Livestock is a crucial part of this sustainable cycle.
- The use of livestock manure instead of industrial fertilizers when applied in large amounts can also help reduce the level of greenhouse gases. Manure contains organic matter, along with nutrients that are necessary for plant growth, making it an ideal fertilizer. There are regulations that govern the application of manure to cropland, including set back distances from neighbors and water. Managing nutrients is critical to livestock farmers and they are investing money each year into their farms to enhance the ways they manage manure and protect the environment.
- Farmers take many precautions to protect the environment while applying manure, including: testing both the soil and the manure to ensure the proper amount of nutrients are applied, but not over-applied; applying manure to dry soil whenever possible; using technology to inject the manure into the soil, reducing the risk of run-off; and maintaining a buffer between where they are applying manure and any areas of water, as well as neighboring residences.
- Livestock farmers take many measures above and beyond what is required of them by the law to protect and preserve the environment. Many livestock farmers are participating in the Coalition’s Green Farmstead Partner program, which teams farmers with nursery and landscape professionals to plant trees and shrubs around their facilities.
- Iowa is a national leader in the implementation of water quality and watershed projects, soil conservation and buffer programs. The state of Iowa currently leads the nation in the continuous conservation reserve program buffer initiative with more than 600,000 acres.
- Iowa farmers currently have nearly 1.7 million acres enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), which assists with taking environmentally sensitive land out of production by planting long-term, resource-conserving covers to improve the quality of water, control soil erosion and develop wildlife habitat.
Every day, farmers continue to strive to become better environmental stewards. After all, it is in their best interest to protect and improve the environment for future generations.