The Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) says it strongly supports the Iowa Environmental Protection Commission’s (EPC) decision on manure application on soybean fields.
At its monthly meeting this week, the EPC declined to implement a ban on manure applications on soybean ground. That means the current standard, which limits liquid manure application on soybean fields to no more than 100 pounds of nitrogen per acre, remains in place.
Roger Wolf, director of environmental programs and services with ISA, says they’re pleased that Iowa’s farmers will still be able to effectively manage livestock nutrients for use on soybean ground—even though it is not a very common practice.
“Anywhere from about three to 15 percent of soybean acres have received nitrogen—that would be any nitrogen, whether it’s manure or nitrogen,” Wolf says. “So, for the most part, farmers typically don’t put nitrogen into their soybean crop.”
The EPC’s decision triggered an angry response from environmental activists, who believe the practice contributes to increased nitrate pollution. But Iowa State University researchers presented studies that showed the practice has very little effect on nitrates—and Wolf agrees.
“Our feeling is that banning this practice really is unlikely to move the needle on water quality, when you think of it as the whole state,” he says. “Truth is that there are places in Iowa where we don’t have tile drainage. From our perspective, if you’re really focused on water quality for the state of Iowa, this practice is not going to get us where we need to be.”
Wolf says ISA looks forward to the unveiling of the state new nutrient reduction strategy.
“I think that has much better hope of actually improving water quality.”