The Clean Water in Iowa Starts Here tour continues today at the Spencer farm near Webster City, Iowa. Situated along White Fox Creek in the Boone River Watershed, this farm is doing its part to help keep Iowa’s water clean.
Landowner and tour stop host Selden Spencer sees the value in adding conservation practices to his land and has worked hand-in-hand with farmer Ray Frye to implement conservation practices on his farm.
Newsradio 1040 WHO’s “The Big Show” will be broadcasting live from a recently completed oxbow restoration on the Spencer farm. An oxbow wetland is a meander of a stream, river or creek, that has become separated from the flow of water. Over time, some oxbows fill in with sediment due to erosion of soil in surrounding areas. The Nature Conservancy in Iowa works with partners to restore oxbow wetlands in three priority watersheds — the Cedar River Watershed, Boone River Watershed and Des Moines River Watershed. Restored oxbow wetlands capture excess water that might otherwise lead to flooding, filter water to improve water quality, and provide habitat to a variety of wildlife.
“Traditionally, oxbows have been restored to protect wildlife. Recently, researchers have been able to quantify nutrient-reduction benefits when oxbows are used under the right conditions. Multi-purpose oxbows were added to the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy’s approved practices list in 2017,” said Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig. “This is a great example of how our conservation work continues to evolve as new research and technologies become available.”
“Oxbows, when healthy, have this amazing ability to naturally filter nutrients and pollutants from the water coming off the land and flowing in our rivers,” said Karen Wilke, Boone River Project Director with The Nature Conservancy. “This farm is a great example of what individuals across Iowa can do, and are doing, to clean the water coming off our land.”
This stop also highlights the 4R Plus program in action. By combining the 4Rs of nutrient stewardship — applying the Right fertilizer source in the Right place at the Right time at the Right rate — with in-field and edge-of-field conservation practices, farmers and landowners can build healthier soils, improve water quality and increase crop productivity.
“In addition to utilizing 4R nutrient stewardship, Spencer and Frye have added ‘Plus’ practices, including reduced tillage, cover crops, a bioreactor and completed an oxbow wetland restoration with help from The Nature Conservancy,” said Paige Frautschy, Iowa Agriculture Program Director for The Nature Conservancy.
“I am grateful to own a beautiful piece of Iowa and hope to protect, if not improve, the property over the next few years,” said Spencer, the landowner.
The 4R Plus platform provides resources and tools to farmers and ag advisors to help them determine which practices are best for their operation. Learn more about 4R Plus by visiting4RPlus.org.
In a recent Fish survey, they found 22 species of fish, must to the joyful surprise of everyone:
About the Clean Water in Iowa Starts Here Campaign
The Clean Water in Iowa Starts Here campaign, created by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) and Newsradio 1040 WHO, aims to raise awareness about the conservation work underway across Iowa, and encourages all Iowans to get personally involved in water quality activities.
The Big Show will visit locations throughout Iowa showcasing the people and practices that are having a positive and measurable impact on water quality. The conversations with farmers, landowners, business operators and conservation leaders will be broadcast Wednesdays on The Big Show airing 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. on WHO and 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. on WMT.
The implementation of conservation practices isn’t limited to rural areas. Urban residents can do their part by keeping leaves, grass clippings and other yard debris out of the street and gutters and slowing runoff and recycling rainwater through rain barrels, rain gardens and swales. Cleaning up oil, anti-freeze and fertilizer spills to prevent them from running into the storm drains, seeding pollinator habitat and properly disposing of paints, solvents and metals also have a positive impact on water quality.