This is “Soil and Water Conservation Week” in Iowa. Bill Northey, the state’s secretary of agriculture, says the week helps highlight steps farmers take to deal with the three feet of water Iowa gets every year.

“You’ve seen a huge change in the way that farmers take care of the land over the last 20 years and certainly longer and the way they look at conservation tillage,” Northey says, “leaving a lot of last year’s crop residue on the land — to be able to hold that soil in place when we get large amounts of rain.”

Iowa covers about 36 million acres and about 31 million acres of the state is farmed. “In Iowa we have a collection of some of the finest soil in the world and our producers take that very seriously as they protect that from the hazards that can happen as we get large amounts of rain at certain times and that soil can be exposed,” Northey says.

A variety of events this week will be held to showcase soil and water conservation projects around the state, but it’s not just ag land being featured. Urban conservation projects in Des Moines and the Quad Cities that show native landscaping, rain gardens and permeable paving will be featured as well.