Soil and Water Conservation Districts
The Division provides staff support to all 100 soil and water conservation districts (SWCDs) in Iowa. The efforts of these staff support the combined soil and water conservation mission of the SWCD, the State of Iowa, and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. Each SWCD is unique in the resource conservation problems it addresses and the way it chooses to package and deliver programs to landowners, farm operators, and local communities.
The conservation of natural resources and the protection of soil and water on private lands are advanced by the Soil and Water Conservation District Initiatives program. Locally-led initiatives prioritize and target sensitive areas by providing funds and resources where they do the most good.
Districts work one-on-one with landowners and operators to deliver conservation programs, increasing Iowa’s participation in both state and federal programs. Identifying critical practices and ways to enhance program alternatives will do more to solve resource problems. Initiative funds are also being used by districts to hire staff to help implement the conservation practices identified in the national Farm Bill.
The Buffer Initiative to accelerate the implementation of the Continuous Sign-up Conservation Reserve Program (CCRP) is an example of the success of this program. With the State of Iowa’s commitment to this program, Iowa leads the nation in buffers protecting our rivers and streams.
The Cooperative Soil Survey
The Cooperative Soil Survey's principal goal is the development, maintenance and application of reliable soil resource information. The value of soil survey information is especially important as we deal with issues such as surface and groundwater quality, crop production efficiency and farm profitability, soil and water conservation, and urban and suburban development. It is the foundation for all land use planning decisions and is required by state law to determine land value and taxation. Current soil survey activities include:
- Systematic update of the state’s oldest soil surveys to raise their quality to current standards of scale, correlation, and interpretation
- Digitization of soil surveys to facilitate their application to current computer technologies
- Technical services applying soil survey information to practical problems of land resource utilization
- Outreach programs to provide soil survey training to local units of government and private vendors to encourage broader utilization of soils information
- Public awareness programs to familiarize individuals with information available from the soil survey
- Support for private sector initiatives such as the Certified Crop Advisor program
Currently, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Iowa State University Cooperative Extension Service, Iowa Agriculture and Home Economics Experiment Station at Iowa State University and counties partner in supporting the Iowa Cooperative Soil Survey Program.