Education on Water Quality Impacts of Residue Management

Matt Helmers and Mark Hanna, Faculty - Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering; and John Lundvall, Field Coordinator - Iowa Learning Farm Project


Water quality in Iowa is of increasing concern and is receiving increased attention.  Agricultural non-point source pollution is a major contributor to sediment and nutrient loads in Iowa waterbodies.  Implementation of agricultural best management practices have the potential to reduce sediment and nutrient loading to downstream waterbodies. 


Provide information and educational programs on water quality impacts of residue management from agricultural lands.  The overall goal is to increase the understanding on the importance of residue management to a wide variety of audiences and increase the adoption of residue management practices that decrease sediment and nutrient loading to downstream waterbodies.     


As part of the Iowa Learning Farm project we are using the Conservation Systems Rainfall Simulator at educational events throughout the state to demonstrate how maintaining residue cover on the land can decrease nutrient and sediment loss from agricultural fields.  Audiences in the Spring and early Summer of 2007 have included but are not limited to grade school students at the Iowa Childrens Water Festival, junior high students at the Upper Mississippi River Fest, stakeholders at the Ames Farmers Market, producer Field Days, and producers and policymakers at the Iowa Farm Bureau Conservation and Natural Resource Issues Conference.  The rainfall simulator has also been featured in an article in the Ames Tribune and on WHO-TV.


Overall the reaction from program participants has been excellent and the demonstration has stimulated significant discussion from both rural and urban audiences.  We have received feedback like this is one of the best visual demonstrations of residue management impacts that I have seen.  Other feedback has included comments that this demonstration really shows that residue management can impact surface runoff water quality and we need additional programs on the water quality impacts of residue management. 

June 30, 2007
160 Natural Resources and Environmental Stewardship


Page last updated: August 2, 2007
Page maintained by Linda Schultz,