Congratulations to the Cedar Rapids Airport Commission and Eastern Iowa Airport Director Marty Lenss for their decision to require the operators of the farmland they own to use cover crops and no-till farming methods. I think that is a courageous move. They obviously recognize the great need to improve water quality for future generations.
The latest annual report of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy was released recently. It showed that during the baseline period of 1980-1996 to the 2006-2010 time period nitrogen tons of non-point and point sources have increased 5.3 percent and phosphorus tons have increased 18.5 percent. A 2018 study by the Engineering Department of the University of Iowa looked at the nitrogen load in tons per acre that are entering the Mississippi River watershed and the Missouri River watershed from Iowa. This study shows that from 2000 to 2016 Iowa’s share of nitrogen has increased compared to the other states emptying into these two major rivers. It further states the nitrogen load during this period has increased from 101,298 tons to 525,654 or 419 percent.
I strongly encourage other farmland owners to follow the lead of the Airport Commission and insist that their farm operators make the same changes in their farming practices to not only improve the health of their soil but to help improve our deteriorating water quality.
Larry J. Neppl