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Food and Environmental Leaders Unite to Improve Water Use and Quality in Midwest Croplands

A coalition of leading food producers and environmental advocates today launched a program to promote water stewardship on farms across Illinois, Iowa, and Nebraska. Called the Midwest Row Crop Collaborative, the group will help farmers implement better management practices to build soil health, use more efficient irrigation, and reduce the flow of nitrogen and phosphorous into rivers, lakes, and the Gulf of Mexico.

“Farming is all about thinking ahead,” said Carter Roberts, World Wildlife Fund president and CEO. “American farmers have long pioneered innovative ways to produce food, but the stakes have never been higher to produce food sustainably. This collaboration builds on the long history of innovation and promises to advance new solutions that support healthy soil and abundant fresh water for all.”

Across the three states, the Collaborative aims to reduce nutrient pollution 20 percent by 2025 and 45 percent by 2035, in line with the goals of the Environmental Protection Agency’s and Midwestern states’ Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia Task Force. In addition, the Collaborative will work in Nebraska to reduce pressure on the Ogallala Aquifer by promoting the use of irrigation units that maximize water conservation.

The Collaborative will also partner with the National Corn Growers Association’s Soil Health Partnership to enroll 100 farms for field-scale testing and measuring management practices that improve soil health. Such practices include growing cover crops, implementing conservation tillage like no-till or strip-till, and using adaptive, innovative, and science-based nutrient management techniques.