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ISA supports EPC’s decision on manure application on soybean fields

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012 11:22 a.m. CDT

ANKENY — The Iowa Soybean Association strongly supports the decision by the Iowa Environmental Protection Commission maintaining the ability for Iowa’s farmers to effectively manage livestock nutrients for use on soybean ground, as has been the interim policy the last five years.

As the state assesses the many issues related to nutrient management and water quality, the issue of applying manure to soybeans is limited in terms of land and water area affected. But a ban would have unintended consequences for farmers. By maintaining current policy, farmers retain the flexibility to apply manure to acres that may grow soybeans at the precautionary rate of 100 pound Nitrogen, as illustrated and recommended by Iowa State University scientists.

Data is inconclusive that application of manure on the few acres that receive it (an average of 7 percent of soybean acres over the past 40 years) affects water quality. When trying to determine whether there might be certain outcomes from nutrient management for a specific field, many variables must be considered. They include weather conditions, crop uptake rates, existing nutrient content of soil, drainage system configuration (or lack of drainage), topography, conservation practices, timing of application and placement and method of application.  

To achieve water quality improvements, we must approach the issue from a watershed perspective, understanding how management systems function and address the fact that problems and solutions will be uniquely suited for the landscape we are dealing with. Therefore, we applaud the EPC’s big picture view of this issue and look forward to the unveiling of the state’s new nutrient strategy that is being designed to create a larger plan for water quality improvements.

The Iowa Soybean Association develops policies and programs that help farmers expand profit opportunities while promoting environmentally sensitive production using the soybean checkoff and other resources.