ISA Garners Funds to Expand Watersheds and Promote Conservation Adoption

Innovation, strategy, goals behind newly-awarded grant from Walton Family Foundation

Ankeny, IA – The Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) has secured a grant to improve water quality efforts throughout Iowa. The Walton Family Foundation approved funding in November towards a one-year project for ISA, in coordination with the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS), to continue innovating and implementing watershed approaches.

“We support innovative approaches to scale practices that improve water quality in Iowa,” says Amy Saltzman of the Walton Family Foundation. “We are particularly excited by this opportunity to scale up successful collaboration between the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and the Iowa Soybean Association.”

The ISA Environmental Programs and Services team (EPS) will head the project.

“ISA, along with our farmers and numerous local, state and federal partners, has developed plans to implement nearly 30 small-scale watersheds,” says Roger Wolf, ISA EPS Director.  “These plans provide a roadmap to scale up practices to meet goals, and this new grant will work to build off that momentum by exploring ways to do it faster and at larger scales.”   

Wolf says the EPS team will be advancing the idea of creating Diffusion Hubs — areas of expansion from small watersheds to larger ones — using new tools, strategies, and technologies to innovate and move the Nutrient Reduction Strategy faster. Additionally, the team hopes to expand the knowledge of the finances behind on-farm conservation, with the ultimate goal of incentivizing broader conservation adoption across the state.

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture, Mike Naig, believes joint efforts to scale up watershed planning projects are a positive for the future of Iowa’s water quality.

“With the passing of the water quality bill this year, IDALS is continuing to explore opportunities for outside funding that can further expand water quality practice implementation,” said Naig. “This grant will give us the opportunity to develop and evaluate new pathways to deploy future funding.”

Partially funded by the 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.