Wetland on agricultural land in Iowa

From wet spot to wetland

April 12, 2023

By Adam Sodders, Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance Communications Specialist

Partnerships lead to new water quality feature at DMACC Dallas County Farm

A once-troublesome mud puddle in a Central Iowa farm field has been transformed into one of the state’s newest water quality wetlands.

The new wetland was completed at the DMACC Dallas County Farm in January. It resulted from a $140,000 donation from Prairie Meadows Casino, in partnership with Ducks Unlimited, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS), Dallas and Polk counties, DMACC, and the Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance (IAWA).

The project is part of the larger $33 million Iowa Systems Approach to Conservation Drainage, which seeks to expand soil and water health practices over a large portion of Iowa.

“The primary goal of this wetland is to reduce nitrogen,” said IDALS Wetland Project Coordinator Shane Wulf, adding that wetlands play an important role in the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy.

At just 6.31 acres, the DMACC Farm wetland punches above its weight. It captures water from 346 acres of mostly tile-drained cropland in the important North Raccoon watershed, reducing the water’s nitrate levels by 40-90%, according to Iowa State University research.

The outsized impact doesn’t end there – the new wetland provides great habitat for local and migratory wildlife and reduces soil erosion. It will also support the learning of future ag producers and leaders.

“With our students, seeing is believing,” said DMACC Agribusiness Professor Travis Lautner, whose curriculum brings students to the DMACC Farm for hands-on education. “It helps them think about how they could do things differently.”

Both Lautner and Wulf thanked the Dallas County Soil & Water Conservation District, which owns the property provided for the wetland project. The site is leased to DMACC through a 30-year conservation easement.

Want to see this new wetland up-close? Join IAWA, Ducks Unlimited, Dallas County and Polk County at the DMACC Farm from 1:30-2:45 p.m. on Wednesday, April 19, where they’ll recognize the completion of this project with tours, hands-on education and hear from wetlands experts and leaders, including Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig – RSVP here.