Nitrates Before and After: This is what happened

Photo: confluence of rivers with nitrogen loads - This is what happened

Many people are curious about Iowa stream nitrate before modern agriculture became established across the landscape. They want to know what the “natural” level of nitrate was. It turns out we do have some actual data. In 1955, the Iowa Geological Survey published a document titled “Water-Supply Bulletin No. 5, Quality of Surface Waters of Iowa, 1886-1954” (1). Some of these data are shown below (as nitrogen).

Confluence of the … [more…]

In the Heart of the Corn Belt, an Uphill Battle for Clean Water

photo: In the Heart of the Corn Belt, an Uphill Battle for Clean Water

Iowa State Senator David Johnson has led the fight to reduce agricultural pollution of the state’s waters. Casey Beck

Runoff from farms and feedlots has badly polluted Iowa’s waterways, more than half of which do not meet federal quality standards. Now, an unlikely coalition is calling for stricter controls to clean up the drinking water sources for millions of the state’s residents.

“Health trumps politics,” said Iowa State Senator David … [more…]

Water quality deal lacks allure in swath of Iowa

photo: Water quality deal lacks allure in swath of Iowa

Photo: Jack Boyer of Reinbeck refills his air seeder Nov. 10 before spreading for cover crops on his farm in Grundy and Tama counties, where he has been growing cover crops for seven years. A retiree of John Deere, he researched and experimented with different crops on his own land and found that cover crops were beneficial to his soil by increasing organic matter, preventing nutrient runoff and reducing soil … [more…]