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Iowa to add 40 saturated buffers, 11 bioreactors to farm fields

May 7, 2021  By Bree Rody

Iowa is undertaking a massive new water quality project that it’s describing as a “blitz” – adding 40 saturated buffers and 11 bioreactors to farm fields in Polk and Dallas Counties to protect water quality in the area. The first phase is expected to be completed in 2022.

The project uses an atypical approach – rather than working on one site at a time, the Polk County Board of Supervisors has hired one contractor to build dozens of bioreactors and saturated buffers on multiple farms.

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship will cover the costs in partnership with the Polk County Board of Supervisors. They, along with others, will also provide technical support. Additionally, engineering and design support have been provided by the USDA NRCS.

Phase one is currently in motion, and project partners are surveying 100 additional sites in Polk, Story and Dallas Counties that can be constructed during phase two.


The Clean Water in Iowa Starts Here Campaign is a public-private partnership created by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Iowa Soybean Association and Newsradio 1040 WHO. It aims to raise awareness of conservation practice work underway across Iowa. For its part, 1040’s The Big Show will visit locations throughout the state showcasing the people and practices that have a positive impact on water quality.

Also part of the project is Radcliffe-based Hands On Tiling and Excavating. Jacob Handsaker, owner of Hands On, said in a statement, “These practices serve as a great spoke in the wheel of our conservation and water quality goals. The public private partnership between federal, state, local agencies and private landowners will be a great stepping stone to ease concerns from landowners for the adoption of future water quality and drainage projects.”

Keegan Kult, executive director of the Agricultural Drainage Management Coalition, added, “We see the Polk County saturated buffer project as the next step of building capacity to be able to deliver these practices at scale. While we are thrilled with the results the partners were able to accomplish, we are more excited to see how this project can serve as a springboard to continue to move from demonstration to widespread adoption.”

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