What is the IOWA CREP?

The Iowa Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program is a state, federal, local, and private partnership that provides incentives to landowners who voluntarily establish wetlands for water quality improvement in the tile-drained regions of Iowa. The goal of the program is to reduce nitrogen loads and movement of other agricultural chemicals from croplands to streams and rivers. In addition to improving water quality, these wetlands will provide wildlife habitat and increase recreational opportunities.

Program Benefits

Landowners enrolling in CREP will receive:

  • Up to 15 years of annual rental payments from USDA for all enrolled acres paid at 150% of the average soil rental rate. 
  • 100% cost-share for wetland restoration and buffer establishment. 
  • A one-time, up-front incentive payment to enter into either a 30-year or perpetual easement.

Why is the Iowa CREP important?

Public Concern has increased about the effects our agricultural systems are having on surface water quality. In particular, nitrate contamination can negatively affect human health and contribute to nutrient enrichment problems in surface waters.

Substantially reducing nitrate losses requires a combination of:

  • In-field best management practices
  • Off-site nitrate removal wetlands

Research at Iowa State University has demonstrated that strategically sited and designed wetlands can remove 40-90% of nitrates and over 90% of herbicides from cropland drainage waters.

Program Sign-Up

Enrollment is on a continuous basis. Land must be in one of the 37 eligible counties in North-Central Iowa (shown above), and must meet CREP eligibility requirements. Eligible lands must be situated so that the established wetland does not impact drainage rights of upstream or downstream landowners.

Where can I get more information?

Individuals interested in the Iowa CREP may contact the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship-Division of Soil Conservation. Information is also available at local Farm Service Agency and Soil and Water Conservation District offices.


Participating Agencies

  • Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship
  • USDA Farm Service Agency
  • Soil and Water Conservation Districts
  • Iowa State University
  • USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service