Tim Smith raises corn and soybeans near Eagle Grove in north central Iowa. In 2011, Tim began participating in the Mississippi River Basin Initiative (MRBI) project through the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). That year Tim tested the water coming from his tile lines for the first time. When the results came back, Tim recognized “that there was higher than normal amounts of nitrates leaving my farm through the tile water. For many years, I’d wondered where those nitrate levels were coming from. My thinking was I was always doing the right thing.”
Since then, Tim has taken a whole farm approach. In addition to implementing CRP, filter strips, contour buffer strips, grassed waterways, and nutrient management, he now uses strip-till for his entire operation, seeds cover crops each fall, and installed a woodchip bioreactor to denitrify water from his tile lines.
Tim also participated in the Iowa Learning Farms State CIG project, which studied how cover crop establishment and growth was affected by how the cover crop was seeded. Listen to a Conservation Chat with Tim Smith and hear him talk about the practices he uses on his farm and his ultimate quest to get his nitrate level below ten parts per million.