Water quality efforts must be made visual at the farm show
AMES, Iowa — Water quality improvements often happen in fields and underground — places that can be hard to see up close and in a single frame.
But with the help of computer screens, visual demonstrations and printed materials, the water quality team with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach plans to make improving water quality highly visual water at this year’s Farm Progress Show, August 30-September 30. 1 in Boone.
Kay Stefanik, deputy director of the Iowa Nutrient Research Center at Iowa State University, said this year’s exhibit will include a video on the water quality benefits of wetlands, specifically related to nitrogen reduction.
The Conservation Station trailer, developed by Iowa Learning Farms, will show visitors what saturated pads and bioreactors look like and how they work.
“The display will allow people to see the components of water quality improvement practices that are often underground and not visible to the human eye,” Stefanik said. “There will be educational opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds and information about what they can do to help improve water quality.”
Catherine DeLong, water quality program manager for ISU outreach and outreach, said visitors can also pick up a copy of a brochure explaining the private well stewardship program, a new initiative to help Iowans who depend on drinking water from private wells.
In Iowa, approximately 230,000 people, or 7% of the population, depend on private wells as their primary source of domestic water. It’s the well owner’s responsibility to test and ensure their drinking water is safe, but many Iowans don’t know how to maintain the quality of their well and where to turn for advice.
The Private Well Stewardship Program aims to provide information on testing, maintenance, and funding resources to maintain water quality in private wells.
Stefanik said visitors can pick up a postcard with instructions on how to view ongoing water quality projects across the state, thanks to an interactive digital map curated by the Iowa Nutrient Research Center. Projects are tagged with a pin, with site-specific information available on each.
At the expo, visitors who would like to have their own water quality project will have the opportunity to register to contact the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. .
“The Farm Progress Show is a great opportunity to tour with growers the range of conservation practices that can be used to reduce the export of sediment and nutrients from farmland,” said Matt Helmers, director of the Iowa Nutrient Research Center. . “We look forward to highlighting practices such as bioreactors, saturated buffers and wetlands. Some of these practices are new, so being able to use the saturated buffer and bioreactor models will help improve understanding of these practices.
Stefanik and other water quality specialists will be on hand at the expo to answer questions about water quality and the types of trends the state is seeing. She said progress is being made, but added that the state still has some way to go to meet the goals set by Iowa’s nutrient reduction strategy.
Stefanik looks forward to the opportunity to meet and engage with the Iowans. She said the show will provide a great opportunity to connect with farmers and others directly involved in land management and conservation.
Shareable photo: Water quality improvement project.