Conservation Farming

The Natural Resources Conservation Service awarded the Rathbun Land and Water Alliance $221,550 through their Iowa Partners for Conservation Grant. The funds will be used to expand the scope of conservation practices used by Rathbun Lake Watershed landowners during a five-year award period ending in 2023.

Since 2004, the Rathbun Land and Water Alliance has partnered with supporting agencies, organizations, and Rathbun Lake Watershed landowners to implement soil saving and water quality protection practices.

During this time, more than 600 landowners in the Rathbun Lake Watershed counties of Appanoose, Clarke, Decatur, Lucas, Monroe, and Wayne have worked with the Alliance to apply conservation practices on 30,000 acres.

These measures have been successful, resulting in the reduction of annual sediment delivery to Rathbun Lake by 57,000 tons per year and 249,000 pounds of phosphorous.

Rathbun Lake is the water source for Rathbun Regional Water Association’s 90,000 customers who rely on the lake for their drinking water.

In addition to the IPC grant, $235,125 is provided by the Alliance and supporting partners which includes the Iowa DNR and ISU Extension.

John Glenn, RLWA president and CEO of Alliance partner RRWA says most of the conservation practices applied to date have been structural measures such as terraces, grade stabilization structures, and water and sediment control basins.

“This funding serves to strengthen conservation efforts in the watershed by broadening the range of practices used by landowners,” states Glenn. “These practices include conservation cover, crop rotation, cover crops, forage harvest management, forage and biomass planting and prescribed grazing.”

Rathbun Lake Watershed Coordinator, Brian DeMoss, is an environmental specialist with the Lucas County Soil and Water Conservation District. He says this funding gives landowners more options with converting some of the land that came out of marginal pasture and went to row crop in 2012-2013 when commodity prices were high, and get them back to a pasture/ hay setting. 

“These practices address resource concerns in the watershed related to soil health, grassland performance, and wildlife habitat as well as water quality,” explains DeMoss.

Funding also provides for ten field days and workshops, and to disseminate water quality protection updates.

“This gives producers a few more options to consider that work hand in hand with the structural measures that they install on their lands. I always look forward to working with landowners and encourage them to contact me,” says DeMoss. He can be reached at the Chariton field office at 641.774.2512.

The following individuals, agencies, and organizations partner with the Rathbun Land and Water Alliance to Protect Rathbun Lake: Participating landowners in the Rathbun Lake Watershed; CoBank; Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship’s Division of Soil Conservation; Iowa Department of Natural Resources; Iowa State University; Iowa Watershed Improvement Review Board; Southern Iowa Development and Conservation Authority; US Army Corps of Engineers; US Environmental Protection Agency; USDA Farm Service Agency; USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service; Appanoose, Clarke, Decatur, Lucas, Monroe, and Wayne Soil and Water Conservation Districts; Appanoose, Clarke, Decatur, Lucas, Monroe, and Wayne Counties; Iowa Farm Bureau at the state and county levels; and Rathbun Regional Water Association.


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