LICA Field Day Aims to Educate Contractors on Erosion Control Techniques
WEST FARGO, ND Contractors from across Iowa learned about new soil and water conservation techniques and helped operate heavy equipment at the 2015 Iowa Land Improvement Contractors Association (LICA) field day, held near Melbourne, Iowa.
The successful, two-day event has been held every other year for the past 12 years to help educate contractors on conservation practices such as wetland restoration, erosion control structures, seeding, tree planting, and sewer and water installation.
"Our goal is to create a one-stop shop where contractors can be exposed to conservation practices that they typically would not see on a jobsite," said Tim Recker, former President of the LICA Iowa Chapter. "We constantly are trying to adopt new conservation practices and see how well they work. This is a really valuable event for contractors."
Recker says contractors who are members of LICA and attend field days are given the opportunity to learn about erosion control techniques that they can then take back with them to their communities. He says they can apply what they have learned for customers living in their local areas, helping them improve natural resource management.
Contractors were encouraged to operate more than 100 pieces of equipment, including a Doosan DX225LC-3 Crawler Excavator provided by RTL Equipment in Grimes, Iowa, the local Doosan heavy equipment dealer in Central Iowa. The DX225LC-3 and bucket were used to help create a third wetland pond on the 80-acre farm.
Currently the farm, otherwise known as the "agricultural water treatment facility," consists of two wetland ponds that flow into a Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) a system designed to remove nitrates from tile-drainage water from cropland areas. The filtered water then travels to a third wetland pond and eventually to a deep-water pond. As the water travels through each layer, nitrates and sediments are removed.
"Every stage we are doing something to the water," Recker said. "It just goes to show how important it is to educate contractors on what they can do throughout the state."
Researchers from Iowa State University have confirmed that CREP wetlands can remove 40 percent to 90 percent of the nitrates and 90 percent or more of the sediments in tile-drainage water traveling from upper-lying croplands.
"Overall, it is pretty inexpensive to remove the nitrates from the water," Recker said. "It costs us approximately 23 cents to remove a pound of nitrates."
The LICA Iowa Chapter has been working on conservation projects at the demonstration farm for approximately 10 years, and Recker says seeing the projects at their completion will be a great accomplishment.
"We bought this farm as an educational piece for contractors and want to continue to educate them on other water and soil conservation projects," Recker said. "Ten years ago, contractors completed a water control structure with a bioreactor, and next year we plan on building a saturated buffer. Both conservation techniques have helped remove nitrates from the water and have been great educating techniques that can be used for a long time."