DES MOINES — The online dashboards that report the results of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy have been updated to reflect the latest reporting period, which coincides with the 10-year anniversary of the Nutrient Reduction Strategy.
Adoption of conservation practices continues to increase, and progress is expected to continue to build over the next decade, according to a news release from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.
“This comprehensive reporting shows that real progress is being made, but we are far from satisfied and will continue our efforts to scale up Iowa’s adoption of conservation practices,” said Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig. “We have always known that this is going to be a collaborative effort that will take everyone — both public and private partners in urban and rural areas — working together for decades to come.”
Highlights from the updated dashboards include:
- Estimates from more than a decade ago suggest that there were as few as 10,000 acres of cover crops planted in the state. In 2021, the number jumped to more than 2.8 million acres.
- The cumulative number of acres protected by edge-of-field practices, including saturated buffers and bioreactors, is 194 times higher in 2021 than it was in 2011.
- The cumulative number of acres protected by wetlands has grown from 2,500 to 139,200 acres.
- The cumulative acres in Iowa protected by structural erosion control practices continues to grow. These practices include terraces, ponds, grade stabilization structures, and water and sediment control basins. In addition to acres protected before 2010, nearly 290,000 additional acres from 2011 to 2021 have been protected using public sector program investment.
- Iowa farmers’ utilization of no-till on crop acres has grown from 6.2 million acres in 2010 to 9.5 million acres in 2021.
- The majority of commercial nitrogen applied to corn acres continues to occur in the spring. Of the acres with fall nitrogen applied, an estimated 86% is put on with a nitrogen inhibitor.
- Total state and federal funding working in support of the Nutrient Reduction Strategy continues to climb higher, with both categories hitting record amounts in the last year. Private investment by farmers and landowners continues to rise as well.
- The flow-weighted nitrate load, measured in tons per inch of flow per year, was 15,000 in 2021, which is the lowest in the monitoring period from 2000-21. The flow-weighted nitrate load metric considers precipitation and water quantity factors that can fluctuate data significantly from year to year.
- From 2015 to 2021, the number of point-source facilities meeting their nitrogen load reduction targets has improved from 10 facilities to 47 facilities.
- From 2015 to 2021, the number of point-source facilities meeting their phosphorus load reduction targets has improved from 3 facilities to 23 facilities.
- 63 municipal and industrial wastewater treatment plants have committed to constructing upgrades to remove nutrients.