Dear Editor:

ISU Extension Service extends University research to Iowa citizens and counties -- it does not promote “corporate industrial Ag” as stated in the Nov. 9 Decorah Journal editor’s water quality editorial. Land grant universities like ISU have three functions, to teach, do research and extend that knowledge to citizens. ISU Extension Service does not tell farmers to use confinement pig facilities.

The ISU Extension Service has coordinated neighbor-to-neighbor leadership on field trials of manure, nutrient and crop management with local scientific data collection within small watersheds in Clayton, Winneshiek, Dubuque, Buchanan and Butler counties. The on-farm research findings were shared at small watershed meetings and in the local media. Decreasing tillage and more no-till planting keeps soil in place, improving soil quality and water infiltration, reducing nutrient and water runoff and flooding.

The current work plan for the Upper Iowa River Watershed project will require farm owner shared funding to build sediment basins by low income and beginning farmers during the ag financial downturn. This will cause structures to be constructed on high resource farms, thus not targeting treatment on the most critical acres. We can do better with the six million dollars to be expended in the Upper Iowa Watershed.

The use of neighbor-leaders to solve water quality issues has resulted in swift and expanded ag management implementation within three years by 60 percent to 75 percent of all farm operators of 60 to 80 farmers in watersheds identified as impaired watersheds. ISU Extension Service organized these low cost projects. This exceeds the 8 percent to 10 percent participation of farmers in historic water quality improvement projects that have featured extensive staff calls on few farmers.

In addition, water quality monitoring by Northeast Iowa RC&D in 30 tributaries of the 1,005 square mile Upper Iowa watershed since 2004 has not been reported in local media to help watershed residents understand watershed issues. ISU Extension hosted a meeting for farmers and other residents to review the multi-year monitoring data.

John Rodecap