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Rural Land: Spacious but in High Demand

Wikimedia Commons
rural Jasper County, Iowa

In rural Iowa, it feels like there’s plenty of room, but the land that makes up that seemingly endless wide open space is very much in demand.

The state of Iowa spans more than 36,000,000 acres, and just about a third of that land is covered each year with corn. Another large chunk of that acreage goes toward pastureland. While most of us may not get out into those fields or spend time in that pasture, what happens on that land affects water, soil and air quality everywhere in the state.

During this Talk of Iowa interview Charity Nebbe talks with Chad Hart of Iowa State University and Jim Gillespie, Director of Soil Conservation for Iowa’s Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, about row crop production in the state and how it affects our environment. Then, Ken Hessenius, who works with animal feeding operations for the Department of Natural Resources joins the show.

Iowa’s permitting system for animal feedlots was created in the 1970’s and has gone through several changes since then. The system requires a building permit and a manure management plan for farms that have more than 500 head of cattle and more than 1240 pigs. Smaller producers are not subject to state oversight. Hessenius says there hasn’t been a feeding operation shut down since he’s been with the DNR. “Our goal is compliance. We want people to be good stewards of the land.” 


Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa
Lindsey Moon is IPR's Senior Digital Producer