Southeast Iowa Water Quality Project

Southeast Iowa Water Quality Project Accelerates Toward New Phase

Though cover crops will continue to be strongly emphasized, added focus will include edge-of-field practices

DES MOINES, Iowa (June 14, 2023) – Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig announced today that a successful Water Quality Initiative (WQI) project in Southeast Iowa is progressing toward its next phase, with a specific focus on the seeding of more cover crop acres as well as implementing additional edge-of-field conservation practices.

WQI efforts in the West Fork Crooked Creek and Long Creek watersheds, which cover areas of Keokuk, Washington and Louisa Counties, have been ongoing since 2014. In the last three years, over 54,600 cumulative acres of cover crops have been seeded in this project area. In fact, this area has consistently been a leader with some of the highest levels of cover crop adoption in the state. In addition to grade stabilization structures, terraces and water and sediment control basins, other practices including a handful of bioreactors, saturated buffers, and wetlands have also been installed over the past several years. These practices, outlined in the Nutrient Reduction Strategy, have been proven to reduce nutrient losses from farm fields.

“Momentum continues to build with this Southeast Iowa water quality project because of excellent leadership from local partners and strong engagement from participating farmers and landowners,” said Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig. “We need even more farmers, landowners and partners to join us because when we add more conservation practices to the landscape, we will see even more water quality progress.”


Over the next three years of this ongoing project, the goal is to seed more than 90,000 acres of cover crops. The project’s goals also include accelerating the installation of many more edge-of-field practices such as saturated buffers, bioreactors and wetlands. Among several other benchmarks, project goals also include a significant increase in grade stabilization structure development as well as the addition of more than 100,000 feet of newly constructed terraces.

Through the WQI, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship is investing $317,000 on this project. Other partners on the project include the Washington County Soil and Water Conservation District, Louisa County Pheasants Forever, Iowa State University Extension, Practical Farmers of Iowa, Clean Water Iowa, Keokuk County Soil and Water Conservation District, Continuum Ag LLC, Washington County Conservation Board, Iowa Farm Bureau, Iowa Soybean Association, Louisa County Soil and Water Conservation District, Tri Oak Foods, National Association of Conservation Districts, Stout Seed and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. The project agreement is in place through 2026.

About the 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 protecting and improving our water quality. 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.