A new partnership between The Nature Conservancy and CF Industries Holdings, Inc., is launching a campaign, "4R Plus," which is designed to give farmers various conservation practices, cover crops, bioreactors and oxbow wetlands to help improve the state's water sources. The conservation practices will include the 4R fertilizer application principles of applying the right source of fertilizer at the right rate, at the right time and in the right place.

Nutrient runoff from agricultural production is impacting North America’s salt and fresh water systems, putting communities, ecosystems and economies at risk. Iowa is among the top states contributing nutrients to the Gulf of Mexico, resulting in the annual “dead zone” — an area of low oxygen caused by excess nutrients, making it difficult for marine life to survive. The nutrient reduction work in Iowa is part of a comprehensive national plan to reduce the Gulf dead zone and improve water quality in the Upper Mississippi Basin.

“Improving water quality is an important part of our company’s commitment to a sustainable future,” said Tony Will, president and chief executive officer, CF Industries. “The key to success in this effort is partnerships like the one we have formed with The Nature Conservancy. Together, we will work to deliver a meaningful improvement in water quality not just in Iowa, where we will focus on empowering that state’s farmers with tools to support their use of conservation practices, but also to North America, as we lessen the impact of nutrient runoff.”

With the multi-year grant from CF, the Conservancy will hire an agricultural program manager to partner and work closely with the Conservation Districts of Iowa and other agricultural groups to advance the overall goal of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy — a 45 percent reduction of nitrogen and phosphorus runoff into the state’s waters.

“The funding from CF Industries is providing us a unique opportunity to significantly scale up our work in support of the Nutrient Reduction Strategy,” said Jan Glendening, State Director of The Nature Conservancy in Iowa. “Working with partners throughout the state, we can more broadly achieve watershed- and science-based solutions that will help safeguard our waters and lands in Iowa, while empowering farmers to meet the rising demand for food, fuel and fiber.”

The CF grant will enable the Conservancy and its partners to achieve a more significant and lasting impact by developing a campaign to reach the 90,000 farmers influencing 23 million acres of row crops statewide, while building a sustainable agriculture blueprint that can be applied to other states through the Conservancy’s North America Agriculture and Upper Mississippi River Basin programs.