The Iowa Department of Natural Resources said Friday night, it was investigating reports of land application of process wastewater potentially entering a stream after receiving numerous telephone calls from concerned citizens. A contractor was land applying wastewater from Essentia, a processing facility in Harlan (Shelby County) under its chapter 200 license, which is issued by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. However, the DNR received reports that the processed wastewater was entering the West Nishnabotna River after it was applied.
DNR staff collected samples on Friday to determine if any of wastewater reached the river. Prior to DNR staff leaving the site, the contractor installed an earthen berm to prevent any further discharge. The investigation is ongoing. The DNR will consider appropriate enforcement action, if necessary. Jessica Montana, supervisor of the DNR’s Environmental Services field office in Atlantic, said “We really want to thank the people who took time to call us and alert us to this situation. The quicker we can get on the scene of a situation like this, the better chance we have of getting the accurate data we need to properly assess the potential impact, but more importantly, the quicker we can work with the responsible party to get material contained.”
Montana said it is important to avoid land application of wastewater and manure when conditions are not favorable like when the ground is saturated because it can result in the material being carried to surface water through runoff.
A reminder today, that Iowa State University Extension and Outreach will offer the Crop Advantage Series to producers at 14 locations across Iowa during January 2016. Locally, a meeting will be hosted on January 19th at the Cass County Community Center, 805 West 10th Street in Atlantic.
Each year, ISU Exension and Outreach specialists and field agronomists present the lastest crop production research and information for the upcoming growing seasons to producers, agronomists and industry leaders. This year’s Crop Advantage Series will focus on the importance of risk management programs and controlling costs.
Each location features a full agenda of workshops that attendees can choose from to develop a personalized agenda. ISU Extension and Outreach field agronomists will present program topics focusing on local needs and production issues.
In addition to discussing the economic returns of crop production, extension field agronomists will present program topics focusing on local needs and production issues. Topics will include: crop market outlook, farm bill decisions, corn disease update, corn rootworm management, nitrogen recommendations, managing soybean Sudden Death Syndrome, herbicide and weed control, and many more.
Over 2,000 producers participate in the regional Crop Advantage Series meetings each year. All meetings are approved for Certified Crop Adviser (CCA) continuing education credits, and every location offers the opportunity for private pesticide applicators to receive continuing education credits.
Early registration for each location is $50; late registration made less than seven days prior to the meeting or at the door is $60. Registration includes lunch, printed proceedings, private pesticide applicator recertification and CCA credits. Online registration and additional information is available at http://www.cropadvantage.org/ or from your local ISU Extension office.
For statewide locations, times, and program content, contact your local ISU Extension Office or visit www.cropadvantage.org. Local dates include:
January 13 – Ames
January 14 – Honey Creek
January 19 – Atlantic
January 28 – Carroll
Crop Advantage Series is presented by ISU Extension and Outreach with support from the Iowa Soybean Association and from the North Central SARE Program–Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education. For questions, contact ANR Program Services at (515) 294-6429, firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact your local Iowa State University Extension field agronomist, Aaron Saeugling at email@example.com or (712) 769-2650.
Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you can’t have fun at camp. Local children in grades K-2 are invited to have some fun on a no-school day this January at Mammals R’ Us Day Camp. Offered by Cass County Extension and the Cass County Conservation Board, Mammals R’ Us is a fun, half-day camp, where kids will learn what makes a mammal a mammal, play games and participate in hands-on activities and crafts to learn about mammal habits.
A snack will also be provided and campers will go on an outdoor adventure hike to find mammal tracks. Youth in grades K-2 can sign up for one of three sessions: Monday, January 18 at 9:00 AM – 12:00 Noon or January 25, with sessions at 9:00 AM – 12:00 Noon or 1:00 PM – 4 PM.
All winter daycamps will take place at the Cass County Community Center in Atlantic. There is no cost to attend the camps, but pre-registration and a medical form are required for all campers. Remember to dress your children to go outdoors for a fun winter hike.
Registration deadline for Mammals R’ Us Camp is January 15th. Call the Cass County Extension office at 243-1132 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to register your children. No registrations will be accepted after the registration deadline. All camps are sponsored by the Cass County ISU Extension and Cass County Conservation Board.
While no one wants to respond to an environmental emergency, planning for one can make it easier to deal with. Adam Broughton, the Iowa DNR’s emergency response coordinator, says “Along with all your other New Year’s resolutions, updating your emergency action plan could be one of the most important. If you’ve ever had a spill, a wastewater discharge, a fish kill or problems with drinking water, you know how important it is to check that the plan is current.
Make sure you’ve updated the DNR’s environmental emergency number, too, since it changed to 515-725-8694 last July. First responders, industries, businesses, cities and livestock producers – are among those who might need to report an environmental emergency.
Find out more about who should use the emergency number and when to use it at www.iowadnr.gov/spills/. Look for the Environmental Hotline Reporting Guide in the table at the bottom of the page.
Republican candidate Ted Cruz supports a five-year phase-out of the so-called “Renewable Fuels Standard” that sets annual ethanol production levels for the country, but Cruz says Iowans are being “snookered” about the R-F-S. “You know, a lot of corn farmers, a lot of people in Iowa have been led to believe by the lobbyists that the RFS is the ‘holy grail’, but the RFS ensures that Washington remains front and center,” Cruz said Tuesday in Sioux Center.
“It ensures that corn farmers have to go on bended knees to politicians in Washington, seeking their regular support and mandates.” Under current federal law, the Renewable Fuels Standard will end in 2022. Cruz co-sponsored a senate bill in 2013 that would have triggered a five-year phrase out of the R-F-S. Cruz says a better answer is improving market access and he promises as president he would end federal regulations that effectively prevent refineries from making higher blends of ethanol, like E-15 and E-30.
Cruz has been trailed this week in Iowa by America’s Renewable Future, a pro-ethanol group that’s headed by Eric Branstad, the oldest son of Republican Governor Terry Branstad, and Cruz is taking issue with their efforts. “Now I recognize, particularly as our campaign has gained more and more support, as we’ve seen conservatives uniting behind our campaign, that a coalition of lobbyists and Democrats have gotten together and are spending an awful lot of money trying to convince you that somehow Ted Cruz opposes corn farmers,” Cruz said in Sioux Center. “I’ll tell you the straight truth: it is utter nonsense.”
Eric Branstad says Cruz “started the Caucus process” by calling for an “immediate” repeal and has been swayed by Iowa farmers, but a spokeswoman for Cruz says the senator first called for a gradual phase out of the R-F-S nearly three years ago.
Iowans who are considering taking up a new hobby in the new year might consider taking a course in beekeeping. A record number of beekeeping classes will be offered in the state this winter at locations all over Iowa. State apiarist Andrew Joseph says the courses are starting as soon as January 9th, just over a week from now.
“Wintertime is a good time to learn about all of the basic information you need to get started with a hive of bees,” Joseph says. “You’ll get this knowledge in your mind, you’ll know where to get things, how to order your equipment and put it together and what to expect over your first season. That’ll prepare you well for springtime, which is when beekeepers will start their new colonies.”
It can be a profitable hobby, Joseph says, and the number of beekeepers is growing. “They’re just skyrocketing and this is definitely true for Iowa and it’s true for pretty much everywhere in the U.S.,” Joseph says. “We’ve jumped over the last ten years from around 3,000 or 3,500 beekeepers across the state to an estimated 4,500 now today.”
Iowa’s 4,500 beekeepers manage more than 45,000 colonies of honey bees. Those bees produce about 4-million pounds of honey annually, valued at over $8-million. Honey bees are also responsible for the pollination of many Iowa crops, as well as home gardens and plants eaten by wildlife. The economic value of honey bees as crop pollinators in Iowa is estimated at $92 million a year. Joseph says the classes being offered by the state will be of help for those who are just starting out.
“Most of the people that would be interested in these classes are new hobbyists, beekeepers with a couple of hives in their back yard,” he says. “It’s a great way to start, just two or three hives, get a taste for it and let it go from there. If you get a passion for it, build up your numbers.”
The state’s offering some 27 classes in beekeeping in a host of sites, included at Iowa Western Community College in Council Bluffs, on Thursday evenings from March 31st to April 14th. Another class will be held in Glenwood. The date and times for the classes have not yet been set. The full list of class sites and dates is at: www.abuzzaboutbees.com
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is planning to place trout in 17 different urban lakes over the next four months. Biologist Joe Larscheid is in charge of the agency’s fisheries. “Trout are a cold water species and they generally are confined in Iowa into the northeast corner of Iowa naturally, but when the water turns cold in the late fall and winter, we can stock these fish in other parts of Iowa,” he says. “We do that to bring trout closer, especially to urban areas, and make these family-friendly events and just really create some excitement about fishing.”
Larscheid says trout are easy to catch and once D-N-R staff put the fish in one of these urban lakes, it doesn’t take long for all the trout to be caught. “It doesn’t take sophisticated equipment. Usually a biologist is there on hand and some local partners there on hand to help people be successful, so if you have young kids, these are really good events to go to,” Larscheid says. “The odds of catching fish are pretty high.”
There are a lot of “anglers” out there in the state according to Larscheid, and thousands of Iowans are angling to catch trout. “We’ve sold more trout stamps in 2015 than ever before and they continue to increase every year,” Larscheid says, “so trout fishing is extremely popular in Iowa.” In addition to a state fishing license, anglers need a trout stamp to legally catch trout — and more than 44-thousand trout stamps have been sold this year.
The D-N-R’s first urban “trout stocking” event is scheduled fpr January 9th at the Scharnberg Pond in Spencer. “I’d just like to encourage people when these events are in your area get your plans together, get your family together and really make an effort to get there,” Larscheid says. “A lot of these trout are caught very quickly one we put them in the system, so the fastest action is usually the day of, right when we stock them.”
In addition to the event planned in Spencer, trout will be stocked at lakes in 16 other cities from January through April, including Big Lake (plus Gilbert’s Pond) in Council Bluffs, at 4-p.m., on Jan. 22nd.
Officials with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources are calling on the public’s help in bringing illegal hunters to justice. The DNR’s Mick Klemesrud says people are tracking deer and other animals from their vehicles and communicating with other hunters by cell phone. “This type of activity has taken hold in certain counties in western and southwestern Iowa,” Klemesrud said. “Our officers are aware of it and it’s something we don’t like to see.” Recently, the DNR charged three men with multiple hunting violations in Cass and Audubon Counties. The men — from Adair, Stuart, and Denison — are accused of illegally shooting two buck deer.
“We think we’ve got one of the most valuable natural resources in our deer herd — it’s world renowned and people come from all over the country and the world to hunt our deer. We want them to do it by the rules,” Klemesrud said. “There are rules we have set up that say you can’t use vehicles and two-way radios to pursue deer.”
The investigation into the illegal activity in Cass and Audubon Counties was launched after the DNR received calls from the public. The three men charged in the case are scheduled to make their initial court appearance on January 7.
Officials with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources say a manure overflow at a small hog finishing farm about three miles southwest of Lenox was being investigated Thursday evening. A passerby noticed that the pit at the facility appeared to be overflowing and alerted the DNR on Thursday afternoon. The buildings at the site have shallow under-building pits.
When the pits are full, they are drained into an outdoor concrete tank. It is believed that employees emptied the shallow under-building pits at the facility on Wednesday, December 30th, causing manure to overflow from the tank. The tank was not overflowing on Thursday afternoon, but a path where manure had flowed was still visible and field tests indicated slightly elevated levels of ammonia in water flowing into an unnamed tributary of the East Fork of the One Hundred and Two River.
The operator contacted a commercial manure hauler to land apply manure from the tank in order to prevent further overflows. The DNR is continuing to investigate the incident and will consider appropriate enforcement action.