Together with the Iowa Soybean Association, we are structuring an innovative, multi-payor financing vehicle designed to provide financial incentives to farmers for the implementation of agriculture best management practices (BMPs) like cover crops and reduced tillage practices. These agriculture BMPs have myriad benefits, including improved water quality, source water protection, enhanced soil carbon sequestration, and improved economic and ecological resilience of Iowa’s farmers.
Maintaining water quality can be a challenge in agriculture-heavy watersheds and landscapes. Runoff from farm fields often contains sediment and nutrients like phosphorus and nitrate, leading to impairment of source water, increased treatment costs, and economic damages. Increasingly, municipalities are being forced to upgrade water and wastewater treatment plants to deal with these increased nutrient levels, which can strain municipal budgets and compete with other capital improvement priorities. State regulators and federal rulemakers continue to search for efficient solutions to water quality challenges, but while progress is being made, much work remains to address this important issue.
We believe that the agricultural (nonpoint) and municipal water (point source) communities can, and should, be viewed as allies. To that end, Quantified Ventures and Iowa Soybean Association have developed the Iowa Soil and Water Infrastructure Fund, which is investing directly into agricultural communities to promote the implementation of in-field and edge-of-field agriculture BMPs. By monetizing the multiple social, economic, and ecological benefits of these practices—for example, quantifying the nutrient reductions that are credited against Clean Water Act permit and carbon credits from enhanced sequestration—the Fund will deliver extremely cost competitive outcomes to our partner.
The Iowa Soil and Water Infrastructure Fund is officially launching in 2020. This model of delivering outcomes-based impact capital into watersheds to yield meaningful change in farming practices and ecosystem service outcomes is a scalable and replicable model that can be expanded to watersheds across the United States.