A first for Iowa and the entire country is happening right now in Sac, Calhoun, and Carroll Counties.
Twenty conservation-minded farmers… the first group to ever do so… have completed a certification program for land operators who are committed to natural resources conservation. The certification provides a way for owners of farmland interested in protecting their investment to identify farmers that have matching goals and are interested in leasing more land.
Project coordinator Tom Buman says he’s extremely pleased with the quality of farmers and the conservation commitment and knowledge. He says the group includes both young farmers who see the certification as an opportunity to grow their skills and land base, as well as older farmers who are sincerely interested in mentoring the younger audience.
Working together, landowners and operators can improve farmland’s long-term sustainability and profitability. Certified Conservation Farmers will work to protect land from soil erosion, improve soil organic matter, and optimize soil fertility… all of which are important factors in land productivity and sustained value. Other common interests might include water quality protection or improving wildlife habitat.
Candidates for the certification were chosen from an application and interview process. Upon selection, each farmer was required to complete 40 hours of conservation education in the classroom, as well as logging more time outside of the classroom. Each participant developed a conservation plan for a farm they rent. They will be required to attend continuing education to maintain their certification.
The pilot project was funded by an NRCS Conservation Innovation grant.