Drainage Tile Monitoring

A collaboration between the Lime Creek watershed council, Coe College and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach was awarded a grant from the State Soil Conservation Committee to evaluate tile drained systems in the Middle Cedar Watershed.  The leadership for the development of this project came directly from the farmers involved in the Lime Creek Watershed Improvement Association.  The following is a brief description of the proposal.

The farmers located in the Lime Creek watershed have been actively working to improve their stream since organizing in 2006.  Since that time they have used performance measures such as the Iowa Phosphorus Index, Soil Conditioning Index and Cornstalk Nitrate Test to evaluate how their management affects agricultural and environmental indicators.  During the same time, they monitored their stream to see if management changes on the land impacted nutrient concentrations in the stream.  This project seeks to move further upstream by measuring management performance through the tile-line delivery of nutrients leaving individual farm fields across the watershed.

The farmers in the Lime Creek watershed believe measuring their performance is important, especially in light of the recent Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy that targets several practices that may be beneficial at reducing nitrate and phosphorus delivery.  To understand what reductions might be possible, the farmers in this watershed feel a need to better understand their current nutrient delivery performance by management scenario.  The knowledge they gain will directly benefit other farmers in the Cedar River watershed (of which Lime Creek is a part) and across the state, as Iowa farmers develop individual strategies to reduce their environmental impacts.

The full proposal can be found here:  Monitoring Nutrient Losses from Tile-Drained Fields in the Middle Cedar Watershed


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