Walnut Creek Update- 2019 Annual Report

By Dan Case, Environmental Specialist

This fall was yet another busy fall for the watershed. Cover crops were plentiful as well as terrace construction. This year we benefited from a 1.5 million dollar federal grant through the Mississippi river basin initiative. This grant primarily funded terrace construction. The cost-share is fantastic and pays much more than any type of cost-share we have ever had, however there is quite a bit of paperwork involved. If you have an EQIP application on file, you should have received a postcard asking if you wanted your application to stay active, meaning you want it to be included in this year's ranking. If you haven't responded please do so! If you do not have an application and wish to do work, please come see us to sign up!

(Photo courtesy the Iowa DNR)

This is the last spring for our current State Water Quality Initiative grant. Since July of 2017 we have spent over one million dollars on conservation! Over $400,000 of that total was on cover crops, equaling 16,333 acres having been planted in the past three years. That is a number that you should all be proud of!. In the next months we will be planning for the future of the watershed. New grants will have to be written. At this time, we are not sure what the future will bring but I do know that you should all expect bigger and better things! Our watershed success has been proven and I only foresee us building upon that success!

Last Spring the Iowa Soybean Association put together a plan they call their "Diffusion Hub Model" for the watershed. The plan describes how we can grow and expand our successes into other watershed beside walnut creek. This past fall we experimented a bit in that we included the Indian creek watershed in our cover crop fly on. Farmers were still limited to normal stat cost share but we did line up the aerial application of their cover crops, if they chose the bid process which made for cheaper prices. We did have several participate and I truly believe if they could all have $25 per acre, like walnut creek, then next year we would have a giant list of new participants.

Included in the Iowa Soybean Association Diffusion Hub Plan was a GIS land use assessment and practice feasibility study that was based on the Ag Conservation Planning Framework tool or "ACPF" for short. Maps were made of the entire watershed with locations of potential practices. Virtually all practices were mapped including bioreactors and saturated buffers. If you would like to see what potential practices were included on your farm come visit me! I foresee the Diffusion Hub Plan being a very useful tool in future grants we write for the watershed and potentially surrounding watersheds!

We are still experimenting with our Cover Crop Plot at Jim Bourn's farm. This spring we hope to experiment with 60" row corn in order to give our covers more a growing season. Another cover crop practice, that I almost forgot to mention and you may not know is cost shareable, is the sowing of oats in the fall! Oats can be flown on or drilled on bean ground in the fall and you can still receive the same cost share amount of $25 per acre. The oats provide a nice fast growing cover in the fall and stay green usually up into the month of December. The oats winter kill and provide a nice amount of extra residue in the spring that you don't have to worry about killing. If you're interested in trying oats please come sign up at the East Pottawattamie SWCD Oakland area office.