Iowa Ag Secretary Mike Naig

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture, Mike Naig (Photo: Lisa Schmitz, Des Moines Area Community College)

New wetland draws crowd to DMACC Dallas County Farm

April 27, 2023

By Adam Sodders, Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance

A crowd of farmers, ag leaders, and water quality experts gathered among Dallas County corn and soybean fields to celebrate one of Iowa's newest water quality wetlands on April 19.

The more than 6-acre wetland site used to be a problematic, muddy ravine on the DMACC Dallas County Farm. Instead of tearing up and eroding nutrient-rich soil, the site now slows and de-nitrifies water from 346 acres of mostly tile-drained cropland in the North Raccoon watershed. April 19 eventgoers enjoyed an up-close look at the wetland and heard from several water and soil conservation leaders, including Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig.

The DMACC Dallas County Farm wetland provides an exciting example of the impact well-placed water and soil conservation practices can have. One of the biggest efforts to expand such practices is Polk County's "Batch & Build" program. The Batch & Build approach includes identifying key spots where edge-of-field practices - like wetlands, bioreactors, and saturated buffers - can have the greatest benefit in a watershed, then working with interested landowners to put those practices in place.

"We’re hoping to bring those lessons learned from Batch & Build and expand those efforts across Iowa," said Polk County Water Resources Supervisor John Swanson, adding that several other Central Iowa counties are forming their own Batch & Build programs, with Boone County as one recent example.

Iowa Ducks Unlimited regional biologist Mike Shannon spoke at the April 19 event, emphasizing that wetlands not only help improve water and soil health, but also provide great wildlife habitat.

Collaboration was key to the new wetland's creation - Prairie Meadows Casino provided support through a $140,000 donation, in partnership with Ducks Unlimited, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS), Dallas and Polk counties, DMACC, the Dallas Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD), and the Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance (IAWA).