Monday, September 27, 2010

2009 Report of Accomplishments of the Silver Lake Water Quality Project as reported by Palo Alto SWCD

Developed 4 press releases:
·  Public meeting regarding general CRP information as well as Mid Contract Management options
·  Successes report for FFY 2008
·  Public Meeting regarding no-till /strip-till partnering with the Iowa Soybean Association
·  Entering Silver Lake Watershed signage for the DNR website

Held 2 public meetings:
·  Mid contract Management / general CRP informational meeting held at the Nature Center. 35 were in attendance.
·  No –till / strip-till meeting held at Iowa Lakes Community College with over 120 producers and students from the college in attendance.

Attended the Spring 2009 coordinators meeting held in Ames, a burn training meeting held in O’Brien County, a RUSLE 2 training held in Spencer. Also completed the Security Awareness program in the office as required.

Presented at the area 2 Spring Regional meeting regarding outside funds used for our project.

Attended the NRCS Area 1 awards day on Sept. 16. Coordinator Don Hagen was presented an award for “Recognition of excellent technical assistance provided to customers with conservation planning and application of practices to address their resource concerns”.

Attended a weekly meeting of the Palo Alto County supervisors giving them updates about our project. Coordinator was given 10 minutes on the agenda, but with very good discussion, we were there 30 minutes. 3 of the supervisors are new and were not aware of the project, so many questions were asked. All were greatly supportive of the project.

Assisted Urban Conservationist at an Emmetsburg City Council meeting. The focus was a piece of property located on Five Island Lake which the City had purchased. They had development questions and conservation questions regarding the Golf Course and surrounding area. We went over the things they need to keep in mind if any development was completed. Also,  mentioned the conservation issues and possibilities which they could consider.

Assisted the Emmetsburg City Economic Development Director and State Urban Conservationist with planting root balls in the catch basin @ the new City Industrial Park. The SWCD also presented the City with the annual Friend of Conservation award at the Annual Banquet. Got press coverage including pictures for our help.

Watershed boundary signs were installed on hard surface roads entering the Silver Lake Watershed.

Went door-to-door to the lake side residents with flyers promoting Green and Grow, a phosphorus free soy based fertilizer.

Had a booth at the ILCC Farm Lab Field Day held annually. Tracy Blackmor of the Iowa Soybean Association highlighted test results on nitrogen rates. Approximately 250 producers attend the event.

Provided an oral report at the SWCD annual banquet. Highlight of the report was reporting a reduction in sediment entering Silver Lake totaling 125 tons. This equals a 17 % decrease in total sediment entering Silver Lake according to pre-application figures.

Sent out 7 additional estimates to producers in the watershed that showed interest in the CRP - SAFE program.

Approached 3 producers about participating in a residue count - post planting - program sponsored by the Iowa Soybean Association. 1 is willing to participate. The other 2 already have liquid manure applied and are no longer in a no-till situation. Coordinator did get 4 participants from outside the watershed to participate.

Attended a High School Ag class educating them on BMP’S and other conservation practices. This was very well received and led to a field trip the next week to actually see some of the practices coordinator talked about. 

Assisted 4 producers in taking 6 stalk tests on manure applied acres as well as commercial applied acres. Results showed very low nitrogen levels in the manure applied fields. The exception is where an additional 140 units of 28% was added. The commercial applied fields were very high in nitrogen levels. A winter meeting is being planned around these results.

Began re-sending estimates using the current FSA rental rates. Have heard back from 1 producer that may be interested in an easement buyout or total buyout. This would be
approximately 5 acres of lakeshore currently used for crop production. The area would provide an excellent buffer for runoff as well as eliminate the use of fertilizers and chemicals directly adjacent to the lake.

Had a pre-survey meeting with the CREP team, landowner, and NRCS. We looked on-site and everyone was very positive about the site. There is a public water line present which will need to be considered, but other than that, things continue to look very positive for this practice.

Enrolled .7 acres of waterways (3)  The contract started Jan. 1, 2009

Set up a pre-construction meeting for the 3 waterways being built this spring.

Had a CREP meeting in our office with Salton (in watershed) and Opheim (outside watershed) Both producers are continuing on with their project.

Coordinator worked at the Palo Alto County fair booth for both the PACCB and SWCD.

Assisted NRCS with the ILCC Soils Judging Clinic. Approximately 150 high school students attended representing 15 School Districts.

Water sampled the tributary entering the lake. Reasoning for this was to check after manure was applied in the area. Coordinator took the sample directly to Mangold lab in Storm Lake. Results were very good. Total Phosphorus = 0.05 mg/L and Ammonia Nitrogen <0.3 mg/L. According to the lab technician, these are very low results.

Enrolled 65 acres for the no-till / strip-till state incentive program within the watershed, and promoted the enrollment of 178 additional acres outside the watershed.

Enrolled 8.3 acres in the SAFE program

Enrolled 7.1 acres of CP-33 CRP Buffer program

Sent information to all producers in the watershed regarding no-till / strip till incentives.

Sent information on the planter clinic and MCM meeting to 48 producers in the watershed.

Met quarterly with the advisory committee

The biggest challenge once again is competing with commodity prices and land values. Producers are still excited about the profits they are making within their farming operation as compared to the past several years. Although, we do have the same interested producer that want to have an impact on water quality and take pride in doing so. A few are interested in bioreactors and would like to try a demonstration project. We seem to get a new contract for no-till each year, and expect this to be on-going due to the success of these producers. With the help of the Iowa Learning Farm, our area is having good success with no-till  / strip-till meetings getting information to interested producers. They also have mentoring / networking ideas which are being used.

The most exciting thing for this year has to be enrolling a CREP site. Initial reduction estimates of 356 tons of  N over 150 year lifetime of the wetland and 407 tons/year reduction in sediment loading into Silver Lake. Construction of this site is expected to begin this fall. (09)

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