Fact sheet highlights soil health's role in water quality

Farm and Food

Cody Smith, policy writing assistant, codys@cfra.org, 402.687.2100 ext. 1016; or Rhea Landholm, brand marketing and communications manager, rheal@cfra.org, 402.687.2100 ext 1025

NEVADA, IOWA – Building soil health is a key strategy for improving Iowa’s water quality, according to a fact sheet released today by the Center for Rural Affairs. “Soil health in Iowa” analyzes the impact that healthy soils have on water quality, weather resiliency, and farm productivity in Iowa.

The publication shows conservation practices, including grazing cover crops, can improve soil health and quality. Through better soil infiltration, absorption capacity, and more, conservation practices create on-farm value for the state’s producers. According to the fact sheet, these changes can also improve water quality by keeping nutrients on the farm fields where they were applied.

“Better resilience during extreme weather events and a lower need for inputs like fertilizer are just a few of the benefits farmers see when they invest in soil health,” said Katie Rock, policy associate at the Center for Rural Affairs and author of the publication. “The evidence is clear—healthy soils result in long-term gains in the productivity and financial stability of farms across the state.”

Rock said policies that support soil health will play a key role in meeting the goals of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy, which aims to reduce the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus in the state’s waterways by 45 percent.

“As we encourage practices that can rebuild topsoil, farmers and their downstream neighbors will continue to see financial and recreational improvements,” Rock said. “Several studies of farmers in the Upper Mississippi River Basin documented cost savings of $100 per acre after they invested in soil health practices.”

To view “Soil health in Iowa,” visit cfra.org/publications/SoilHealthInIowa.