A year-end report on the Raccoon River watershed from a coalition of Iowa agricultural groups shows higher nitrate levels than in past years.
Roger Wolf, executive director of Agriculture’s Clean Water Alliance, says the elevated readings from the watershed across western and central Iowa were mainly caused by the weather.
“These samples came back high compared to previous years,” Wolf says, “and we attribute a lot of that level to the previous years’ rain events. You go from dry to wet cycles and nitrate is a water-soluble portion of nitrogen and so, when it rains, the water moves.”
Wolf says they use the information gathered in the studies to help producers with water management.
“We use this data and information to help farmers adopt new practices that can capture some of those nutrients that are lost and then refine their management,” Wolf says. “It’s just part of the natural science process, data collection and then trying to do a better job.”
He says it takes more funding to be able to handle water quality management and it’s everybody’s job, not just farmers, to address the problem.
“We’ve been responsible, we think, in a proactive manner by investing in better understanding,” Wolf says, “where we need to work and what we need to work on, and now we need to do our job at getting more resources deployed.”
Since 1999, the alliance has invested $1.5-million in monitoring as part of a commitment to improving water quality.
By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton