A local farmer's perspective
Across Iowa, farmers have implemented various elements of the nutrient reduction strategies that are the most effective and responsible for their individual farms. Unfortunately, Des Moines Water Works and CEO Bill Stowe think that farmers aren't addressing nitrate loss and that we are over-applying fertilizer, as evidenced by the lawsuit that has been filed on three northwest Iowa counties. On our family-owned farm, I am proud of the steps that we have taken to curb nitrate loss and ensure we are stewards of the land and water.
We have utilized cover crops, filter strips, terraces, grass waterways and minimum-till techniques on highly erodible land for decades on our farm to help slow soil erosion. We also use nitrogen stabilizers to aid in reducing nitrate loss.
The truth is, northwest Iowa has some of the most fertile farm ground in the world.
When nitrates leave our soil, it makes us less effective producers. It doesn't make sense to think that farmers are knowingly doing damage to soil and water quality. With profit margins as tight as they are, farmers can't afford to be over-applying and letting nutrient rich soil be washed away.
It seems like farmers have less of a voice in the public eye. Let's not let our urban counterparts have more of a voice as to how we farmers should farm our land. As farmers, we must continue to learn from the Iowa Department of Agriculture, Iowa State University, and other farmer's innovative techniques to improve soil conservation. Our goal is to continue to be profitable and responsible producers so that future generations can thrive on what gets handed down to them.