Iowa farmers face ag drainage problems. There are solutions.

Now is a great time to upgrade your farm’s drainage. In some cases where water quality is improved, those upgrades can be 100% paid for with cost-share offered through the Iowa Systems Approach to Conservation Drainage (ISACD) project and other partner contributions.

If you want to make drainage improvements on your farm, call Dr. Andy Craig with Ecosystem Services Exchange at 319-321-4001 for immediate help, or locate your local NRCS office!

Below is a summary of practices that are eligible.

For farmers and landowners who want to improve their communities’ water with no financial or time commitment:

  • Bioreactors – Mulch-filled underground trenches placed at the end of tile lines, catching drainage water on its way off your field. Bioreactors reduce soil nitrogen loss, need very little long-term maintenance, and won’t change your field work in any way.
  • Saturated buffers – Underground structures that redirect some tile water through a lateral distribution pipe, which drains into high-organic content soil. That means reduced soil nutrient loss and cleaner water. Saturated buffers need little to no maintenance, and won’t change your field work in any way.

For farmers and landowners with a constant wet spot that causes losses or low yields:

  • Constructed wetlands – Strategically placed areas for drainage water to flow off farmland. The water’s flow is slowed, allowing nutrients, sediment, and other contaminants to be naturally filtered. Wetlands also offer beautiful natural habitat.

For farmers and landowners who want better water infiltration and control of the flow of water:

  • Drainage Water management – This strategy involves raising the water table as evenly as possible across a crop field, then installing a small water level control structure above-ground. The control unit allows the farmer to decide when to hold back or release drainage water.

How to get cost-share for conservation drainage practices: Getting cost-share through the ISACD can provide peace of mind as you decide which practices work best for your farm. Get started by contacting your NRCS county field office (found here by clicking on your county). Want to get info fast? Call Dr. Andy Craig with Ecosystems Services Exchange at 319-321-4001! Learn more in this USDA-NRCS overview of conservation drainage practices. Also check out this fact sheet on the ISACD, including a full list of eligible practices and qualifying counties.

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