Ag Department working with counties on batch and build water quality projects

DES MOINES — The Iowa Department of Agriculture is trying a new approach called “batch and build” to address runoff that impacts water quality. 

Ag Secretary Mike Naig says it involves doing  several water quality projects together. “It’s an innovative approach to really grouping together and installing practices more efficiently,” he says. 

Naig says it brings more people in to get more done. “Historically, we might have built one or two at a time and worked with individual landowners or farmers to do that,” Naig says. “What we’re doing is working with counties and other partners to group those together, you might do 20, 30,40 or 50 at one time.”

He says there is more efficiency in the work. “Contract with one land improvement contractor, you pay the bills, once it’s very efficient, you can group them together and get them built. And so this is all part of our effort to scale up and really accelerate the adoption of practices like bio reactors and saturated buffers in the state of Iowa,” Naig says. “And really an innovative program that’s not really being done anywhere else. We’ve created it here in the state of Iowa, very proud of that, and really proud of the partners who are working together on that.”

The bioreactors and buffers at the edge of fields help remove nitrates from the water that comes off tile lines. The Ag Department is working with the Wright County Soil and Water Conservation District  on the first phase of the Boone River watershed project with a goal of installing more than 25 edge of field conservation projects.

Other similar projects are in Calhoun, Jasper and Boone County.