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Creating resilient landscapes and improving water quality starts with land stewardship. With nearly 70% of Iowa land in crop production, conservation must be a priority in agricultural policy in order to protect the state’s soils and waterways, and adapt to a changing climate.
The Nutrient Reduction Strategy (NRS) – which aims to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus loads leaving the state by 45% by 2035 – is Iowa’s primary policy for sustainable agriculture and water quality.
While sustainable agriculture practices are on the rise, more are needed in order to achieve the goals of the NRS. For example, approximately 888,000 acres of cover crops were planted in 2018, a significant increase from years past, but still a far cry from the 12.5 million acres called for in the NRS.
Barriers to widespread adoption and implementation of NRS practices include a lack of farmer and landowner awareness, and a need for technical assistance and infrastructure that support scaling-up conservation efforts.
INHF recommends that dependable funding be made available to support adoption of sustainable agriculture practices, including increased capacity for outreach and technical assistance.