By Eric Adams–Muscatine Soil and Water Conservation District
MUSCATINE, Iowa–Dave Scott is a row crop farmer in Seventy-Six Township in Muscatine County. He was chosen as the recipient of the Muscatine Soil and Water Conservation District Conservationist of the Year Award for his efforts in reducing soil erosion and improving water quality.
Scott Eichelberger is the Chairman of the Muscatine SWCD and Dave’s neighbor: “Dave is a wonderful neighbor and top-notch conservationist. He and his family have been building waterways and terraces for decades,” Eichelberger said. Dave has achieved this community recognition by implementing a bioreactor, waterways, and cover crops in his corn/soybean rotation.
Several years ago, Dave implemented a bioreactor on his farm. A bioreactor is simply a large hole filled with wood chips near the outlet of a field tile. The wood chips act as a natural filter as the water flows through them. This practice can help reduce nitrate pollutants by up to 45%!
Waterways are used to help convey agricultural runoff to a stream without erosion to the cropland. Waterways are a grassed, parabolic shaped channel that ranges from 30-120 feet wide, and one to three feet deep. The size of the waterway is based on the erodibility of the soils and the drainage area of the waterway.
Cover crops provide a living root system to the soil during the months that there is not a commodity crop being grown. This provides a food source for soil microbes and covers the soil to reduce erosion. Cover crops can also be managed to help reduce weed pressure in cropping systems.
If you have questions about conservation opportunities or improving soil health on your farm, please contact the Muscatine NRCS at 563-263-7944×3.