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Soil Health in Indian Creek

As Linn County segued into the new year, I began my responsibilities as the Soil Health Coordinator. I am responsible for outreach and technical assistance activities as part of the Indian Creek Soil Health Partnership. In addition to outreach, I am assisting in the implementation of conservation practices that benefit soil health and reduce nutrient loss throughout the Indian Creek Watershed. The partnership was put together through the generous funding and supporters of the Indian Creek Watershed Management Authority, including but not limited to, the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, Linn County Conservation, and numerous other entities.

In this post, I'll be highlighting some of the recent work done in the watershed, and a few of our continuing efforts. To start with, two soil health educational presentations were given at Kirkwood Community College this past fall.

The fall of 2023 kicked off the construction phase for the Cedar River Clean Water Partnership's Batch and Build program. As a result of this collaborative effort funded by the State of Iowa and administered by the City of Cedar Rapids, 6 bioreactors and 11 saturated buffers (edge of field practices which reduce nitrate concentrations in tile water) are being constructed within the Indian Creek Watershed, leading to 39 total in Linn County. Plans for a second round of Batch and Build projects are underway, with signups estimated to close at the end of the year.


Of the possible conservation practices, two that are gaining popularity in the watershed and Linn County as a whole, include no-till planting and cover crops. This spring, there is still time to consider implementing and receiving cost share for no-till and strip till systems (for eligible applicants). Strip till, no-till, and cover crops aren't the only ways that soil health can be improved. Find out more by visiting https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/conservation-basics/natural-resource-concerns/soils/soil-health.

Why is soil health important? On top of adding value to the land from a farming perspective, these associated practices work together to reduce stormwater runoff, sediment loss, and nutrient loss to streams.

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