Situation: Improvements in water quality and nutrient management, while sustaining farm productivity, require a concerted effort at the watershed scale. Most of the conservation work on watersheds has been at a sub-watershed scale. DuPont is pledging $250,000 to The Nature Conservancy for an initiative that is concentrating efforts beyond the 10,000-acre sub-watershed scale. The initiative focuses on two watersheds in the Upper Mississippi River where row-crop agriculture is the dominant land use—the Boone River in Iowa and the Mackinaw River in Illinois.
In each watershed, the Conservancy is coordinating efforts to demonstrate successful integration of agriculture and conservation that provide maximum economic returns for farmers, while targeting conservation best practices for maximum protection of freshwater river systems. By comparing results from the Boone and Mackinaw River watersheds, the Conservancy can determine the applicability of this approach to other watersheds throughout the Mississippi River drainage.
Boone River in Iowa: The Boone River watershed encompasses approximately 581,110 acres, extending over the following central Iowa counties: Kossuth, Hancock, Humboldt, Wright, Webster and Hamilton.
Boone River Project Components:
- Develop the ecological restoration goals and measures for the watershed.
- Conduct a hydrologic and economic analysis of current versus future desired conditions.
- Merge whole-watershed modeling, conservation planning, and on-farm management and economic tracking to promote and enable ecologically compatible and economically successful agricultural practices.
Boone River Project Partners:
- Iowa Soybean Association
- Center for Agriculture and Rural Development
- Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District
- Local landowners and producers
- Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture
- Prairie Rivers RC&D
- State and federal conservation agencies