A new study shows significant soil erosion in Iowa this year. Craig Cox, with the Environmental Working Group, says soil erosion is a major problem for water quality, and it also hurts farm production while damaging the environment. “From this spring through June, about 15-million tons of Iowa soil was eroded from farm fields,” Cox says. “That estimate doesn’t include the amount of soil from these ephemeral gullies which is what our study looked at.”
The study found almost one-third of that lost soil came from just four counties: Adair, Cass, Clayton and Pottawattamie. The report surveyed 63-million acres of cropland and found about 35-million acres had a moderate-to-high need for more conservation measures.
Cox, the EWG’s senior vice president of ag and natural resources, says the study found evidence of farming conservation practices that have helped recently, but he says more needs to be done to reduce soil erosion. “There were additional conservation measures taken and in four of the five cases there were new grassed waterways or there were grassed waterways that were fixed,” Cox says. “In one case, there was a cover crop and it worked, those practices worked incredibly well and they really solved these problems.”
Cox says it’s unfortunate that federal policymakers have cut back on funding for conservation and the Conservation Reserve Program has faded to only 25-million acres nationwide, including about one-and-a-half million acres in Iowa.
(Reporting by Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton)