Casual gathering will provide local farmers, landowners and interested Iowans with an opportunity to listen, share and learn with peers and ISU experts regarding conservation topicsContinue reading
Submitted by Melissa Miller, Associate Director of the Iowa Water Center
The One Water Summit brings together a diverse network of water leaders from across the country for thought-provoking presentations, action-oriented panels, mobile tours, and unparalleled networking opportunities. One Water Summit 2018 is a unique venue to craft innovative solutions, connect with influential leaders across the public, private, and nonprofit sectors, and forge the alliances needed to advance integrated, equitable, and sustainable approaches to water resource management.
We are excited to be part of a core group of “team captains” encouraging our colleagues from Iowa to attend the summit as part of the Iowa delegation, coordinated by the Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance. The last two years, Iowa has led the largest delegation to the One Water Summit. This year, we hope to bring our largest, most diverse, and engaged delegation yet.
Our delegation is an effective way to facilitate peer exchange, knowledge building, and navigate multiple programming options at the Summit. As delegates, we have the opportunity to join peer-to-peer exchange sessions before, during, and after the Summit to collaborate and dive deeper on the thorny challenges and opportunities in sustainable water management.
All in all, it’s a great way to get more out of the Summit and advance our work locally. The Alliance offers a heavily discounted rate of $425 for One Water delegations (almost half off). Read more about the benefits of the delegations here.
If you’ve never been to the US Water Summit, don’t worry – neither have we! We are thrilled to take part in this event and hope to see our friends from our nationwide network of Water Resources Research Institutes, too. There’s much to be learned from each other (and shared with others) as we work toward better water management.
We hope you’ll consider joining the Iowa delegation as part of the Iowa Water Center team! For more information, including the discount code to register, contact Melissa Miller (email@example.com).
Melissa Miller is the associate director of the Iowa Water Center. She holds a B.S. in community and public health and M.S. in community development with a focus in natural resources management, both from Iowa State University.
Ames, Iowa – Research shows that to meet the goals of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy, Iowa farmers will need to increase use of a diverse array of appropriate nutrient management and other conservation practices. However, most soil and water conservation practice research focuses on single practices (e.g., cover crops). Research from Iowa State University published this week in the Journal of Extension examines factors that influence Iowa farmers’ simultaneous use of multiple practices. The primary finding was that farmers who are more engaged in agricultural social networks tend to adopt more diverse nutrient management practices.
Farmer Social Networks
The article, “Understanding Predictors of Nutrient Management Practice Diversity in Midwestern Agriculture,” co-authored by Hanna Bates, Program Assistant at the Iowa Water Center at Iowa State University and J. Arbuckle, Iowa State University Extension Sociologist, draws on data from the 2012 Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll. The research examined relationships between information format preferences, information sources, farm organization involvement, and opinion leadership and farmers’ use of diverse nutrient management practices. The results showed that farmers who prefer to learn about nutrient management through in-person formats such as field days, farmers who are more involved in agriculture and natural resource conservation organizations, and those who consider themselves to be opinion leaders tend to employ a more diverse range of nutrient management practices.
“The finding that farmers who prefer face-to-face learning formats for nutrient management information tend to use more diverse practices is important,” said Bates. “Given the recent increase of online webinars, publications, and social media campaigns as means to reach farmers, this result suggests that in-person formats are still valuable.”
Results also highlight the important role that agriculture and natural resource organizations can play in encouraging nutrient management practice adoption. Numerous organizations have initiated or expanded conservation programs and research projects to help farmers reduce nutrient loss.
“Farmers who are more involved in these organizations used significantly more practices,” Bates said. “This result suggests that efforts to experiment and share information about practices such as cover crops and bioreactors are paying off.”
Another key finding in the study was a positive relationship between opinion leadership and use of diverse nutrient management practices. Opinion leaders are community members whose opinions and actions can influence others. The study asked farmers to rate the degree to which they take leadership roles, are role models to other farmers, or are a source of advice for others, such as extension staff and crop advisers. Farmers who viewed themselves as opinion leaders tended to use more nutrient management practices.
“Opinion leaders can be a critical component of outreach at the local level,” said Bates. “Public recognition programs, such as the Iowa Farm Environmental Leader Award, may provide insight into who are the key players who are influencing change in rural communities.”
Future Directions for Conservation Service Providers
The findings provide positive reinforcement for efforts to engage farmers in conservation networks. On the flip side, however, the authors of the study highlight that more needs to be done to reach out to farmers who are less connected within agricultural community social networks.
“Farmers who are less involved in agricultural and conservation organizations and see themselves as less central in the ag community reported fewer nutrient management practices,” noted co-author Arbuckle. “These results point to challenges for conservation service providers because farmers who are likely in need of conservation assistance appear to be the hardest to reach. The conservation community needs to develop different strategies to engage such farmers.”
“Understanding Predictors of Nutrient Management Practice Diversity in Midwestern Agriculture” and “Iowa Farmers’ Nitrogen Management Practices and Perspectives” are available at the provided hyperlinks. More information about Sociology Extension and the Iowa Water Center can be found online.
Cultivating a Community of Practice for Watershed Management
Submitted by Melissa Miller, Associate Director of the Iowa Water Center
The word is starting to get out on one of our latest Iowa Water Center initiatives: Watershed Management Authorities of Iowa (WMAs of Iowa). This is a statewide organization to unite the ever-growing numbers of Watershed Management Authorities in the state. The goal of this group is to create a network for WMAs to connect with each other, give WMAs a voice in the state, and serve as an information resource for all watershed management stakeholders. WMAs of Iowa helps cultivate a community of practice for watershed management in Iowa.
Let’s be honest here – we did not come up with this great idea. The need for this group came from the WMA stakeholders themselves, and they are the ones who will drive it. Multiple work sessions this winter with the WMA community resulted in a strategic framework that needed one thing: implementation. IWC proposed to act as a catalyst for implementation by offering administrative capacity – organizing meetings, managing a timeline, maintaining a listserv, coordinating all the work that has already gone into creating a presence for this group.
Right now, we’re in the process of inviting WMAs to join us, and we’re looking for board members from those existing and newly forming WMAs to drive the organization forward. We hope to have a board in place by this fall with a website, newsletter, and other outreach and resource activities to follow.
Why is IWC involved?
I’ve confessed before to being the president of the WMA fan club, and waxed poetic about the effectiveness of watershed-based planning. I’ve also been using the admittedly odd metaphor that IWC can act as caulk for water groups in the state – we seek to fill gaps and build capacity that connects groups to use resources effectively and efficiently.
By building up WMAs in the state, we’re promoting a research-backed method of natural resource management that will lead to better water resource management and implementation of creative and practical solutions to water resources related problems. That is the reason we exist, you know. (Need proof? Read the Water Resources Research Act as amended in 2006!)
… and we have answers!
Written by Melissa Miller, Associate Director of the Iowa Water Center
It’s that time of year again. Everywhere I go, I get questions about the Iowa Water Conference. Here are a few of the recurring questions:
What’s the theme this year?
Watershed Management: Partnerships for Progress
Is the agenda filled up?
You bet – chock full. We’re going to release it as soon as we’ve fine-tuned the last few details.
Can I still submit abstracts?
We do have ONE track that we’ve left unfilled on purpose. The Current Research track will have an open call this January. We plan for this track to have nine 30-minute spots available. Keep an eye open for that call – it won’t last very long, as we’ve had a lot of interest! If you don’t get selected, we certainly encourage you to submit a poster.
And my favorite question to answer: What’s new for 2017?
Last year is going to be hard to top, but we’re trying. The conference committee carefully considers your comments and evaluations each year and makes little tweaks here and there. Some highlights from 2017 to look forward to:
-The addition of the Iowa Chapter of the American Fisheries Society to the conference. We have several fisheries related talks that will appear in the main conference program, as well as a special track that will serve as their regular spring conference.
-Bringing back the evening reception. We will host a networking social hour on Wednesday evening in Scheman featuring an exhibit titled, “River Stories: Views from a Watershed.” This is a photo exhibit detailing stories created by women farmland owners in the Raccoon and Des Moines River valleys.
-A time for panel presentations. To cap off the first day breakout sessions, we will have a full hour for four concurrent panel presentations to encourage discussion and collaborative thinking.
-Optional workshop: Prairie STRIPS. The STRIPS team is working on developing a two-hour workshop on implementing this beautiful and effective water management practice.
–Spirit of the Water Essay Contest. With thanks to a generous donor, the Iowa Water Center is holding a writing contest for students in the state of Iowa in high school, college, or graduate school. Entries are being accepted through February 1; visit our website for more details.
This is all in addition to the perennial block of excellent plenaries, breakouts, award presentations, photo contest, networking, Scheman sticky buns, posters, exhibitors, and more! Look for the full agenda to be released next week and registration to open in January (we’ll announce the date on social media and email our subscribers).
Hanna Bates joined the Iowa Water Center at the end of August as the Program Assistant. In this position, she will administer our grants program, assist in planning our education and outreach events, and assist in facilitating the relationship between water-related researchers and the public.Continue reading
Earlier this year, IWC Director Rick Cruse and Associate Director Melissa Miller met with staff from the Agricultural Entrepreneurship Initiative (AEI) at Iowa State University about an exciting new event idea. AEI team members have spent the last several months working tirelessly to organize Water Innovation Challenge 2016, an open community creative event that will join students, industry experts, scientists, entrepreneurs and YOU to collaborate and co-create new ideas that change the way we think about, manage, and use water in our state.
Sept 1 & 2 (must be present both days)
Scheman Building, Iowa State University campus, Ames
$50 registration (FREE for current students)
Over $15,000 awarded in prizes
The event is facilitated by Dr. Jeffrey Stamp, a professional creative and concept developer who was the inventor of the Frito-Lay Baked! Lays® Potato Crisps. Dr. Stamp is a native of Sheldon, Iowa and leads creative innovation sessions worldwide for corporations, universities, and start-ups.
We at IWC are delighted to promote this event that will equip a variety of stakeholder with entrepreneurial skills all while thinking big and sharing ideas that will creatively address water quality issues in Iowa.
For guidelines, event schedule, and registration information, please visit the event’s webpage. Questions can be directed to Amanda Blair at firstname.lastname@example.org or 515.294.4945. This event is sponsored by the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation.
It’s been a week since the opening of the 2016 Iowa Water Conference, one of the most highly attended events in its ten year history. We’ve been busy tying up loose ends, getting presentations posted on the event page, and even catching a few breaths here and there. A week removed seems like a good time to record some observations about this year’s conference as we look forward to 2017 (yes, already!).
You can’t control the weather. We had the conference three weeks later this year to avoid the inevitable early March “in like a lion” happenings. Mother Nature pretty much laughed in our faces, since the weather at the beginning of March was gorgeous, and the storm Wednesday night prevented several attendees and three speakers from making it to Thursday’s activities. (Absolutely enormous thank you to ISU Brent Pringnitz for setting these speakers up to present remotely in an unbelievably short turnaround period.)
Water is kind of a big deal. We had almost 500 people attend the water conference this year. That’s 100 more than last year. We had more posters, more exhibitors. People care about water so much that they will take two days out of their busy schedules to come learn and talk about it with people they may or may not know. The opening plenary even got media coverage on WHO TV.
The Iowa Water Conference shouldn’t be the only time we collaborate. We’ve received feedback from many people who want to make sure the cross-pollination that the Water Conference fosters stays at the forefront. One way to do that is to plan or attend local conferences/meetings/seminars on more specific interests (like tomorrow’s IGWA meeting in Newton). If you need help planning, let us know – we can help steer you in the right direction. If you’re looking for events, sign up for our newsletter. If you have an event, send it to us and we’ll help promote it.
This is YOUR conference. We made quite a few changes to this year’s conference to reflect the comments left in the evaluations from last year, and from what we can tell, they worked (for the most part). Please continue to send us your ideas throughout the year. We’ll have an open call for presentations during the summer months; you’ll find the announcement on this blog, our newsletter and Facebook and Twitter. We have an amazing core committee of conference planners, but can always use more ideas and voices. If you or your organization might want to be on our list of planning partners, give us a call.
There is a lot more we can say, but we’ll leave it at that for now. What were your takeaways from the 2016 Iowa Water Conference?
The Iowa Water Conference isn’t the only learning opportunity around these here parts – make sure you sign up to attend the Iowa Groundwater Association‘s Spring Conference. Registration is due in advance, so hop on over to their website to register – $75/members, $100/non-members, and $25/students until 3/24.
Thursday, March 31, 2016
DMACC Conference Center Auditorium – 600 N. 2nd Ave. West, Newton, Iowa
IGWA is honored to present this exciting line-up of speakers for our spring conference! Please join us in learning about the Flint Water Study, the DMWW lawsuit, avian influenza, antibiotic resistant bacteria, arsenic, radionuclides, and source water protection!
CEU’s are available for Groundwater Professionals (2), Certified Well Contractors (6), and Water Treatment Operators (0.5).
- Detection of Avian Influenza A in Groundwater: Results from the 2015 HPAI Outbreak – Laura Hubbard, USGS
- Protecting Source Waters in Agricultural Watersheds – Bill Stowe, Des Moines Water Works
- Flint Water Study – Anurag Mantha, Virginia Tech
- Fate and Transport of Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria and Resistance Genes in Tile Drained Agricultural Fields Receiving Swine Manure Application Over Four Years – Elizabeth Luby, Iowa State University
- Arsenic and Old Wells: Reducing Contamination Risks for Private Well Users – Sophia Walsh, Cerro Gordo County Dept. of Public Health
- Radionuclides in Alluvial and Shallow Bedrock Aquifers – Dustin May, State Hygienic Laboratory/University of Iowa
- Hydrogeologic Reconnaissance and Characterization for a Groundwater Source of Supply: Fort Madison, Iowa Case Study – Greg Brennan, HR Green
In the water world, we talk a lot about working together. We all live in a watershed. The importance of partnerships. Work with your upstream neighbor to improve life downstream.
Sometimes, all it is, is talk. We say we want to work together, but it doesn’t happen, for whatever reason – maybe we can’t get together, we get busy with other things, we can’t agree on priorities. But the reason we talk about working together in water is because we do all live in a watershed. Working with your upstream neighbor DOES improve life downstream. Partnerships aren’t only important, they’re vital to success, and when we work together, impactful things happen.
Last week, 49 of the 54 Water Resources Research Institutes got together for the annual director’s meeting. The Virginia Water Resources Research Center planned the meeting this year (we had the honor last year) and for three days, we worked together.
A few droplets that represent the bigger “working together” stream:
-49 out of 54 WRRIs were in attendance. The meeting was in Washington, DC. The Virgin Islands made it. Alaska made it. Even Guam made it. (Actually, Guam director Shahram Khosrowpanah is a valued member of the NIWR board.) Distance didn’t preclude the Institutes from getting together.
-We heard from federal representatives that told us water resources research is headed toward the funding of collaborative, interdisciplinary research – multifaceted projects that address water resources not just from a technical perspective but also from a human dimension perspective. Water resources management IS the proverbial Big Picture. Research will treat it as such.
-Over a period of 24 hours, the Iowa, Illinois, and Tennessee Institutes went from chatting over a few sandwiches about potentially working on a regional effort to planning, identifying, and putting into action a plan to work with USGS Water Science Centers in our state and region to focus on making a difference in the Mississippi River basin. (More on that as it develops.) All three states have different priorities and run their Institutes a little differently, but we all have one goal.
This meeting was, and always is, a short period of time in which we focus on what it means to work together. Iowans, you have an opportunity to do the same thing next month at the Iowa Water Conference. Use the conference to not only learn about the latest in water management in Iowa, but to find people and organizations with whom you can work together. Work with your upstream neighbor; you WILL improve downstream. Partnerships ARE important. And for goodness sake, we all live in a watershed!