Naig: Record number of farmers participate in Water Quality Initiative cost share program

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For Immediate Release: Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018


2,800 farmers commit more than $9 million to plant cover crops, use no-till/strip-till or nitrification inhibitor

DES MOINES – Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig announced today that a record number of Iowa farmers again signed up to install nutrient reduction practices on their farm through the Iowa Water Quality Initiative’s statewide cost share program.

More than 2,800 farmers from all 99 Iowa counties signed up to try cover crops, no-till/strip-till or nitrification inhibitor on more than 300,000 acres.  The state will provide over $5 million in cost share funds to match the estimated $9.1 million investment by Iowa farmers.

“We continue to see growing interest by farmers in using water quality-focused practices on their farm. Together, we are building a culture of conservation across the state and it is encouraging to see farmers continuing to invest in these practices,” Naig said. “This is one of several programs that are available to assist farmers as they work to protect water quality and build soil health.” 

Participants include more than 1,000 farmers using a practice for the first time and nearly 1,800 past users that are trying cover crops again and are receiving a reduced-rate of cost share.

Farmers not already utilizing the practice were eligible for cost share for cover crops of $25 per acre, $10 per acre for trying no-till or strip till and $3 per acre for using a nitrapyrin nitrification inhibitor when applying fall fertilizer. Farmers that had used cover crops in the past were eligible for $15 per acre in cost share.  Cost share was only available on up to 160 acres per farmer. 

While sign up for this program has closed, farmers are encouraged to still reach out to their local Soil and Water Conservation District office as there may be other programs available to help them implement water quality practices on their farm.

One program available through the Department farmers may want to consider is an incentive that provides a crop insurance premium reduction for farmers who use cover crops. Through this program, farmers who plant cover crops this fall may be eligible for a $5 per acre premium reduction on their crop insurance in 2019. Program information and the online sign-up and application process for farmers and landowners to certify eligible land for the program can be found at

Over the past 5 years, 8000 farmers, including nearly 4,600 first time users, signed up to use a water quality-focused practice through the Water Quality Initiative. These farmers invested more than $17 million to try cover crops, no-till, strip-till or a nitrification inhibitor on their land.

“We understood from the start that this would be a long-term process and it is great to see farmers making an extended commitment to cover crops and understanding how to use them in a variety of situations and conditions,” Naig said.

Background on Iowa Water Quality Initiative

The Iowa Water Quality Initiative was established in 2013 to help implement the Nutrient Reduction Strategy, which is a science and technology based approach to achieving a 45 percent reduction in nitrogen and phosphorus losses to our waters.  The strategy brings together both point sources, such as municipal wastewater treatment plants and industrial facilities, and nonpoint sources, including farm fields and urban stormwater runoff to address these issues.

The Initiative seeks to harness the collective ability of both private and public resources and organizations to deliver a clear and consistent message to stakeholders to reduce nutrient loss and improve water quality.

In addition to the statewide cost share, a total of 64 demonstration projects are currently located across the state to help implement and demonstrate water quality practices. This includes 14 targeted watershed projects, 7 projects focused on expanding the use and innovative delivery of water quality practices and 43 urban water quality demonstration projects.   More than 250 organizations are participating in these projects. These partners will provide $42.2 million to go with the $31.5 million in state funding going to these projects.

More than $420 million in funding has been documented for efforts in support of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy last year. This represents a $32 million increase of funding in support of Iowa water quality programs and conservation efforts over the previous year

More information about the initiative can be found at 


For more information, contact Dustin Vande Hoef, (515) 281-3375 or (515) 326-1616 (cell) or