Water Quality Webinars

This collection of webinars covers water quality topics that are important for watershed coordinators and others who have an interest in water quality. The webinars are divided into six categories: General Water Quality, Land Use Practices, In-field Management Practices, Edge-of-field practices, Erosion, and Other Water Quality Topics. Click on the video link or the video picture to view the video in a new tab within your browser. 


General Water Quality

Tony Toigo and Patti Cale-Finniegan, Water Resource Restoration Sponsored ProjectsMay 2013: Tony Toigo and Patti Cale-Finnegan, Water Resource Restoration Sponsored Projects (33 min.)

Water Resource Restoration Sponsored Projects help cities, watershed organizations, landowners and others address local water quality programs. With the Sponsored Projects, a total of $15 million will be available per year for watershed protection practices such as stream buffers, wetland restoration, and green infrastructure. This webinar presents information about the program including who is eligible, what the program covers, and how to apply.

By viewing this video, you will be able to:

  • Explain the background, policies and procedures of the State Revolving Fund (SRF) loan program
  • Summarize how the SRF program can help cities, watershed organizations, landowners and others address local water quality concerns
  • List the types of water and wastewater projects that can be funded with an SRF loan
  • Recall application requirements and the role of sponsor organizations like a watershed group, SWCDs or RC&Ds in the SRF program


Lois Wright MortonJune 2013: Lois Wright Morton, Linking and Integrating Water Quality Planning for Action (47 min.)

Many federal and state agencies in Iowa administer water programs that address complex water concerns. Each of these partners has distinct missions, goals and public mandates. Lois Wright Morton discusses how these agencies face challenges in framing issues, planning for stakeholder understanding, and finding new ways to motivate action that will help improve water quality in Iowa.

By watching this webinar, you will be able to:

  • Discuss drivers, challenges and common approaches to advancing water resource management
  • Identify Iowa water quality decision makers and stakeholders
  • Recognize frameworks that are used to talk about water problems


John LawrenceJanuary 2016: John Lawrence, A Conversation with Iowa State University Associate Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences on the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy (56 min.)

In this webinar, Associate Dean John Lawrence discusses conservation and the ISU Extension and Outreach role as well as the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy and the challenges of meeting the goals of reduced nitrogen and phosphorus loss from Iowa. 

By watching this video, you will be able to:

  • Explain how the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy (NRS) was developed 
  • Describe what ISU Extension’s role is in the development and implementation of the NRS
  • Recall how the NRS established prices for implementation of the NRS
  • Identify how we measure the progress of the NRS


Nathan AndersonJuly 2012: Nathan Anderson, Visioning Long-Term Sustainability: A Farmer's Perspective (42 min.)

Nathan Anderson, from Cherokee, farms with his wife, Sarah, and family. Anderson graduated from Iowa State University in 2010 with a degree in agronomy. This webinar features Anderson’s presentation, “Visioning Long-Term Sustainability: A Farmer’s Perspective,” which he gave at the 2012 Iowa Water Conference.

In this video, Nathan discusses his personal values. By viewing this video, you will be able to:

  • Describe how Nathan defines sustainability in different ways
  • List how he evaluates different measures of sustainability in his community
  • Talk about specific changes that Nathan would like to see in his community by 2035 that will increase sustainability


October 2015: North Central Region Water Network: Farmer Leadership in Watershed Management (62 min.)

Julia Olmstead from University of Wisconsin - Extension, Lois Wright-Morton from Iowa State University, and Todd Sutphin from the Iowa Soybean Association focus on farmer leadership in watersheds and discuss what they have learned about best practices for engaging farmers in watershed work. 

The webinar features three 10-minute presentations on the topic of farmer leadership in watershed management. By watching this video, you will be able to:

  • Describe in your own words what you are encouraging farmer leaders to do when you help them form a watershed group and steps to take when forming the group
  • Gain insight into a Wisconsin farmer-led watershed project consists of 4 HUC 12 watersheds, including how the project was funded, farmer motivations to participate and how early farmer leadership was crucial to the success of the project
  • Gain insight into WQI watershed projects in Iowa that are assisted by the Iowa Soybean Association, including how the projects prioritized practices, how they used a tool to rank practice combinations and how they create a practice implementation timeline


Land Use Practices

Youngquist Prairie Strips Iowa Learning FarmsApril 2015: Tim Youngquist, Spreading prairie strips to Iowa farms (42 min.)

This webinar focuses on Iowa State prairie strips research, which shows that strategically converting ten percent of a crop field into perennial prairie can greatly reduce soil erosion as well as phosphorous and nitrogen loss. Initial research conducted in central Iowa and the adoption of prairie strips on private farms is discussed. The benefits of prairie and design considerations for siting prairie strips within farm fields are also covered.  

After viewing this video, you will be able to:

  • Describe the background of the Prairie STRIPS program and how the Prairie STRIP experiment got started at the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge in Prairie City in 2007
  • Recall the effectiveness of Prairie STRIPS on decreasing runoff, nutrient and sediment loss
  • Explain in your own words design considerations for Prairie STRIPS


In-field Management Practices

Sarah Carlson Iowa Learning FarmsJune 2015: Sarah Carlson, Cover crops for Iowa from farmers (44 min.)

This webinar presents findings from the Iowa Cover Crop Working Group’s long-term on-farm rye cover crop research. The study is a side-by-side trial on ten farms across the state, using rye cover crops in the same fields since 2009. Soil carbon, infiltration, nitrogen, and pH as well as yield data were collected.

By watching this webinar, you will be able to:

  • Explain why a farmer would want to use cover crops and general groups of cover crops
  • Describe findings of various on-farm research results involving cover crops from 2009 to 2015 
  • Summarize cover crop recommendations for Iowa producers


Daniel Barker Iowa Learning FarmsMarch 2013: Dan Barker, New Technologies for In-Season Nitrogen Management (37 min.)

This webinar discusses nitrogen sensing technology. Dan Barker presents results from field research trials and on-farm demonstrations that have used remote sensing technologies (active canopy sensors) to vary application of in-season nitrogen fertilizer in corn. Recommendations on total amounts of nitrogen fertilizer applied, efficiency of nitrogen rates and timings, and yield benefits with sensor nitrogen strategies are also presented.

By watching this webinar, you will be able to:

  • Identify types of remote sensing equipment that can be used to target or vary the rate of nitrogen application
  • Recall research findings from a study that compared yield responses in corn based on three treatments:
  1. application of pre-plant N only
  2. application of pre-plant N and a flat rate of N application at the V10 stage
  3. application of pre-plant N and a rate/placement of N application at the V10 stage


Matt Helmers  Iowa Learning FarmsApril 2011: Matt Helmers, Nitrogen Management and Water Quality (46 min.)

This webinar covers water quality impacts of various in-field management practices, including rate and timing of nitrogen application, use of drainage water management and shallow drainage, and various land covers. Matt Helmers is an Iowa State University Extension water resources engineer who researches the impacts of agricultural management on water flow and quality.

By watching this webinar, you will be able to:

  • Identify agricultural land areas in the Midwest that benefit from subsurface drainage and the relationship between these areas and nitrate export
  • Describe the relationship between land use and nitrate concentration
  • Discuss opportunities and challenges related to in-filed nitrogen management  
  • Explain the basic objectives of drainage water management
  • List best practices to reduce nitrate export


Mark Tomer Iowa Learning FarmsFebruary 2014: Mark Tomer, A Framework to Facilitate Conservation Planning in Watersheds using Precision GIS Technologies (36 min.)

This webinar covers a watershed scale planning framework that uses computerized mapping tools to help improve water quality. The mapping tools identify where different types of conservation practices can be used in watersheds to improve water quality. The output can help conservation planners and landowners develop a set of planning alternatives, with each map showing how conservation practices can be distributed to address key pollutant pathways in both surface and subsurface-drained landscapes.

By watching this webinar, you will be able to:

  • Identify the basic concept for the conservation planning toolbox to build soil health, control water within fields, control water below fields and implement riparian management
  • Describe in input map data layers that drive the model


January 2015 North Central Region Water Network: Decision Support Tools for Nutrient and Sediment Management (60 min.)

Topics include the Iowa Daily Erosion Project, Reducing the Risks in Manure Management, Considering Climate Data in Agricultural Decisions, and Design and Decision Support Tool for Alternative Agricultural Drainage Ditch Designs. 

In this video, you will hear from four presenters from Iowa State University, University of Wisconsin and the Ohio State University. The webinar features three 10-minute presentations on the topic of decision support tools for nutrient and sediment management. By watching this video, you will learn about:

  • Iowa’s Daily Erosion Project and expansion to other Midwestern states (Rick Cruse, ISU)
  • Wisconsin’s Runoff Advisory System (Laura Ward Good and Richard Halopka, UW)
  • Considering Climate Data in Agricultural Decisions (Chad Hart, ISU)
  • Enhanced Ditch Design Spreadsheet (Jessica D’Ambrosio, OSU)


Edge-of-field Practices

Dan Jaynes Iowa Learning FarmsJune 2014: Dan Jaynes, Saturated Buffers for Nitrate Removal (43 min.)

Riparian buffers are a proven technology for reducing sediment, phosphorus, and nitrate contamination of surface waters. Unfortunately, in tile-drained areas of the Midwest, buffers are not particularly effective in removing nitrate because the tile lines discharge directly into surface waters, bypassing the buffers. Saturated buffers are an attempt to “re-plumb” the riparian buffer, redirecting some of the field tile drainage into the buffer as shallow groundwater flow. 

By watching this webinar, you will be able to:

  • Explain how a saturated buffer works
  • Determine the basic considerations for siting and designing a saturated buffer
  • Identify the effectiveness of a saturated buffer for nitrate removal
  • Consider the potential application of saturated buffers in Iowa


Christianson Iowa Learning FarmsMay 2011: Laura Christianson, Bioreactors: Benefits and Challenges (48 min.)

This webinar discusses the new technology of woodchip bioreactors which are used to reduce the amount of nitrate in drainage water, including how bioreactors work and what they can do for farmers.

By watching this webinar, you will be able to:

  • Describe how a bioreactor works and how water flows through the structure
  • Evaluate the conditions that are necessary for the denitrification process to occur in a bioreactor
  • Recall the ideal amount of acres that a bioreactor can treat
  • Discuss potential challenges and limitations to bioreactors


Bill Crumpton Iowa Learning FarmsDecember 2013: Bill Crumpton, Wetlands as Nutrient Sinks in Agricultural Landscapes (53 min.)

Research has shown that CREP wetlands can remove 40-70 percent of nitrates and more than 90 percent of herbicides from cropland drainage waters. In this webinar, Bill Crumpton discusses his research, which focuses on wetlands and their function in agricultural landscapes and his model for nitrate loss in wetlands that receive nonpoint source water on a watershed scale. This model is used to site and design alternative wetlands and serves as the foundation for the Iowa CREP Program.

By watching this webinar, you will be able to:

  • Describe how nitrate moves in cultivated croplands with subsurface drainage
  • Recall CREP wetland performance and compare nitrate concentrations and flow rates from various CREP wetlands located in the Des Moines Lobe


Gautsch Iowa Learning FarmsDecember 2015: Jacklyn Gautsch, Iowa DNR's Wetland Monitoring Program (50 min.)

The Iowa DNR’s Wetland Monitoring Program began in 2005 through grant funds provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Since that time, a statewide monitoring program has been developed to assess these valuable areas. Results of the monitoring enable the Iowa DNR to determine the ecological condition of wetlands while documenting any contaminants and stressors found in these systems.

By watching this webinar, you will be able to:

  • Identify common plants that occur in wetlands in Iowa
  • Identify characteristics associated with hydric soils
  • Identify wetland hydrology field indicators
  • Recall types of wetlands and explain the importance of wetlands in Iowa
  • Describe findings from monitored pothole wetlands across the state


North Central Region Water Network: Managing Agricultural Drainage Water (56 min.)

In this video, you will hear from three presenters: Jane Frankenberger from Purdue University, Chris Hay from South Dakota State University and Richard Cooke from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The webinar features three 10-minute presentations on the topic of managing agricultural drainage water. By watching this video, you will be able to:

  • Summarize the Transforming Drainage project and its long-term planning vision to design agricultural drainage to retain water in the landscape
  • Describe how drainage water management works and identify the most suitable areas for the practice
  • Consider specific benefits of drainage water management including reduction of drain flow, reduction of nitrate loads and yield benefits
  • Compare and contrast design factors for bioreactors including the need for a soil cover and changes in conductivity in the bioreactor over time 


Drainage Webinar Series: Saturated Buffers (66 min.)

In this video, you will hear from two presenters: Dan Jaynes with USDA-ARS and Dan Perkins with Jasper County SWCD in Indiana. By watching this webinar, you will be able to:

  • Describe how nutrient retention occurs in a riparian buffer
  • Explain how a saturated buffer works
  • Recall the amount of tile flows that can be diverted or redirected through a saturated buffer
  • Describe the ideal site suitability of a saturated buffer and why other sites would not be suitable


Drainage Webinar Series: Wetlands (62 min.)

In this video, you will hear from two presenters: Bill Crumpton with Iowa State University and Anna MacDonald with the Badger Creek Watershed project in Jasper County, Iowa. By watching this webinar, you will be able to:

  • List the water quality benefits of wetland restoration
  • Describe how nitrate moves in cultivated croplands with subsurface drainage
  • Recall CREP wetland performance and compare nitrate concentrations and flow rates from various CREP wetlands located in the Des Moines Lobe
  • Learn about the Badger Creek Watershed Project, including funding, goals, and the types of conservation practices that project seeks to implement
  • Describe details from CREP wetland project sites in Madison County, Iowa within the Badger Creek watershed


Drainage Webinar Series: Controlled Drainage (65 min.)

This webinar discusses controlled drainage as an option for nutrient removal. Speakers include Gary Sands from The University of Minnesota-St. Paul and Tony Thompson is a farmer near Windham, Minnesota who owns or rents 3500 acres and has installed 16 control structures on his farm.

In this video, you will hear from two presenters: Gary Sands with University of Minnesota and Tony Thompson with Willow Lake Farm in Minnesota. By watching this video, you will be able to:

  • Describe in your own words what controlled drainage is and the goals of the practice
  • Identify the efficacy of controlled drainage related to hydrology, nitrate loss and crop response
  • Explain the design of controlled drainage
  • Recall how a farmer in Minnesota who farms 3000 acres has incorporated controlled drainage in his operation



Brian Gelder Iowa Learning FarmsNovember 2015: Brian Gelder, Daily Erosion Project Version 2

This webinar discusses updates to the Iowa Daily Erosion Project to Version 2 as the project expands to cover neighboring states Minnesota and Kansas. Based at Iowa State, the Iowa Daily Erosion Project simulates the erosion process daily on more than 200,000 hill slopes across the state of Iowa using multiple high resolution inputs.



Tom Isenhart Iowa Learning FarmsSeptember 2014: Tom Isenhart, Streambank Erosion

Do we know enough about stream bank erosion to mitigate damage to stream ecosystems? There is a growing body of evidence that much of the sediment and phosphorus delivered to the surface waters from farm fields originates from streambed and stream bank erosion. This presentation discusses the effects of altered watershed hydrology, sediment build-up from historical agricultural erosion of uplands and riparian land management on streambed and stream bank erosion.



Cruse Iowa Learning FarmsApril 2014: Rick Cruse, Soil Erosion in Iowa - How Much is Really Happening?

This webinar talks about soil erosion that is ignored or unreported by most agencies, and even by the Iowa Daily Erosion Project. Cruse is part of research efforts more clearly identifying soil erosion that occurs in ephemeral gullies – the small gullies formed by water runoff typically tilled shut by farm operations. Many fields are scarred by gullies that channel soil and chemicals into streams, which are not accounted for in Iowa State’s erosion estimates or those typical of the Natural Resources Conservation Service.



Other Water Quality Topics

Jamie Benning Iowa Learning FarmsMay 2015: Rebecca Ohrtman and Jamie Benning, Source Water Protection Program

This webinar explores what source water is, how it is supplied and monitored, and how landowners, farm operators, local organizations and agencies can work with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to improve and maintain the quality of their drinking water.



Lehman Iowa Learning FarmsOctober 2015: Rosalyn Lehman and Nate Hoogeveen, Restoring Iowa's Rivers

This webinar discusses how river restoration, used in other Midwestern states, improves water quality, reduces streambank erosion, reduces flooding, improves habitat, and enhances economic development. The webinar also provides information about stream restoration design and project examples that demonstrate processes and outcomes.



Soupir Iowa Learning FarmsJune 2011: Michelle Soupir, Fate and Transport of Pathogens From Agricultural Landscapes

Pathogens and contaminants such as antibiotics and antibiotic-resistant bacteria can be transmitted from agricultural landscapes to surface water and groundwater systems, which can cause a decrease in water quality. This webinar discusses the fate and transport of pathogens from agricultural landscapes.



North Central Region Water Network: Soil Health: What Do We Know, What Can We Do?

This webinar explores soil heath with the following presenters and topics:

  • Naeem Kalwar, North Dakota State University – Soil Salinity and Sodicity Impacts to Soil Health
  • Dr. Dave Franzen, North Dakota State University – Soil Erosion and its Effects on Soil Health
  • Chris Augustin, North Dakota State University – Cover Crops for Healthy Soils
  • Kevin Erb, UW-Extension and Christina Curell, Michigan State University – Soil Health: Making Agriculture more resilient in an era of Climate Variability