On April 22 the Iowa Soybean Association’s Environmental Programs and Services (ISA EPS) team will be doing what they do every day.
“Every day is Earth Day for us,” says Keegan Kult, ISA EPS watershed management specialist.
EPS Director Roger Wolf agrees. “It’s not a stretch for Iowa’s farmers to think of earth day every day. Our soil, water and air are what enable us to feed a hungry world. Taking care of those resources only makes sense.”
The Environmental Program was established in 2000 to help achieve ISA’s goal to “stabilize and increase yield while improving production efficiency and the environment.” The ISA EPS team of nine now includes specialists in environmental planning, agronomics and natural resource management, water monitoring and analysis, farming, communications, outreach and resource development.
They gather information and develop tools that help farmers gain a science-based understanding of agriculture’s impact on water and other natural resources. Out in the field, they help farmers implement practical, action-oriented programs to maintain yields and profitability while reducing negative environmental impacts.
They collaborate with partners to demonstrate and evaluate promising new conservation practices and develop watershed initiatives that can be adapted elsewhere. Some examples include
- a multi-state agricultural sustainability initiative now supported with soybean checkoff funding from six states and from the United Soybean Board;
- demonstration of new practices, like denitrifying bioreactors;
- water monitoring and analysis services, including ISA’s own water laboratory, designed and operated by a former Des Moines Water Works lab supervisor; and
- watershed planning services offered by a staff environmental planner.
ISA’s farmer directors have invested more than $3 million in Iowa soybean checkoff funds and have leveraged three times that amount in public and private grants and contracts to support the EPS performance-based approach for identifying and implementing sustainable solutions.
ISA’s staff experts are frequently invited to bring their experience and perspective to local, state, regional and national forums addressing environmental issues. Just a few leadership initiatives in which they’ve been active are the Johnson Foundation’s “Charting New Waters: A Call to Action” in Washington, D.C., two National Research Council Study Committees on Mississippi River water quality, the National Biodiesel Board’s Sustainability Task Force, and the Iowa Legislature’s Water Quality Planning Task Force.
James O. Andrew of Jefferson, current chair of ISA’s Environmental Advisory Council, says, “The ISA EPS team has developed relationships that allow government, urban environmentalists and soybean farmers to partner, using science-based research to tackle real and perceived problems confronting our environment. These relationships help soybean farmers contribute a common sense, logical approach to environmental stewardship and can give a more accurate understanding of agriculture to those in other sectors.”
(Source: Iowa Ag Connection)