Iowa Soybean Association Seeking Farmers to Participate in Watershed Assistance Program

Watershed planning assistance available for four watersheds

Ankeny, IA — The Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) is seeking four watersheds to participate in a watershed planning project. The goal of the project is to assist Iowa HUC-12 (Hydrologic Unit Code) watersheds in creating watershed plans for improved water and soil quality. Each plan will build readiness for implementation of conservation farming practices that improve soil and water quality in the watersheds.  

“Watershed planning helps guide stakeholders and farmers through a collaborative process at the watershed scale,” said Karl Gesch, watershed coordinator and resource management specialist at ISA. “The planning includes individual on-farm conservation assessments to identify opportunities for conservation practices like cover crops, bioreactors, saturated buffers and more.”

The watershed planning process begins with establishment of a watershed advisory group who will provide local input and feedback over the duration of the process. ISA staff will conduct watershed and individual on-farm assessments, as well as gather and input data to determine opportunities for soil and water improvement within the watershed. The information gathered will lay the foundation for long-term implementation of the right conservation practices in the best locations.

“This is a great opportunity for farmers, landowners and other stakeholders to begin working towards improving local water quality and soil health in a coordinated way,” said Gesch. “Watershed planning often leads to increased funding for additional conservation practices that farmers and landowners can adopt such as cover crops, reduced tillage or bioreactors.”

Watersheds should be no larger than one HUC-12, which is typically around 20,000 acres. To qualify, there should be some level of local interest in improving water quality through the implementation of conservation practices. Watersheds that have completed watershed plans may be more likely to receive funding for conservation practices.

An example of this is the Eagle Creek watershed in Wright County. Tim Smith is a farmer and landowner in the watershed and was involved in the watershed planning process.

“The watershed approach is important because it involves farmers and gives farmers ownership of the outcomes,” said Smith. “Because funding isn’t always available, watershed planning allows farmers to use what funding is available and apply it to places where it will do the most good.”

To nominate a watershed, contact Karl Gesch at or 515-334-1047 by September 30, 2018. Watershed plans will be completed by the summer of 2020. This project and the watershed assessment and planning activities are supported by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under number agreement NR186114XXXXC004.

Not funded by soybean checkoff

The Iowa Soybean Association ( develops policies and programs that help Iowa’s more than 40,000 soybean farmers expand profit opportunities while promoting environmentally sensitive production using the soybean checkoff and other resources. The association was founded in 1964 and is governed by an elected volunteer board of 22 farmers. It strives to be honest and transparent, fact-based and data driven and committed to environmental stewardship, collaborations and partnerships.