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Research Bulletin (Iowa Agriculture and Home Economics Experiment Station)

Abstract

The purpose of this study is to determine whether farmers in the Spring Valley Creek Watershed in Mills County, Iowa, can profitably conserve their soil to an increased extent. These farmers presently fall far short of conservation goals of public agencies. Although the conservation goals are stated in terms of preventing loss of topsoil, closely related problems of gullying, flooding and channel siltation are important. Solution of these interrelated problems is stressed by the activities of various governmental agencies. The need for control of the headwaters and tributary streams was recognized in Public Law 566-the Small Watershed Act. The limited funds made available under this act are used in building structures and in encouraging local participation in projects for controlling soil and water erosion.

This study is part of an investigation of alternative water-control measures in a particular watershed. In the watershed studied, no concerted action has been taken by the group of farmers to organize under Public Law 566. Hence, the research is expected to be useful in directing actions of farmers in this watershed, and similar watersheds, for deciding whether or not to participate in the Small Watershed Program. The questions toward which this research is directed are: Can farmers in the Spring Valley Creek Watershed in southwest Iowa, where soil is easily eroded, profitably adjust their farming operations to conserve their soil at recommended levels? Or, does a lack of possibility to improve farm income under conservation farming methods require participation in, and subsidy from, public watershed programs?

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