The Iowa Soybean Association received significant funding support for key soybean rust and environmental initiatives in the FY 2005 Omnibus Appropriations Bill. The spending bill, signed by President George Bush, provides $800,000 for soybean rust-related research and more than $1.1 million for ISA environmental and agronomic study programs.

“We are pleased Congress has addressed the serious threat soybean rust poses to Iowa and U.S. soybean farmers. We have been working on this issue for well over a year and the funding provided in this bill to deal with this issue will be very helpful in finding a solution,” says ISA President Curt Sindergard, Rolfe. The soybean rust appropriation provides $800,000 to Iowa State University and the USDA Agricultural Research Service to conduct research and develop commercial soybean varieties capable of resisting damage from Asian Soybean Rust. Soybean rust has been discovered this fall in several Southern states, including Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Arkansas.

In a series of conservation-related appropriations, Congress also funded key ISA projects related to environmental issues. “ISA has developed several innovative programs dealing with the key environmental issues facing soybean producers,” Sindergard says. “Our work has once again been recognized by Congress for its critical importance to producers. The new funding is necessary to expand participation to more Iowa soybean growers.”

In the bill, Congress provided $431,500 for ISA’s Certified Environmental Management Systems for Agriculture (CEMSA), $548,000 for ISA’s Watershed Demonstration Partnership and $200,000 for ISA’s On-Farm Management Systems Evaluation Network (ISA On-Farm Network).

CEMSA is a farmer-driven initiative to help farmers develop and implement an Environmental Management System (EMS) for their individual operation, modeled after the ISO 14000 standard on environmental planning. Each EMS must document good stewardship practices, evaluate alternatives in environmental management, and set objectives to achieve environmental improvement. Each EMS is designed to balance environmental concerns with economic and agronomic needs. CEMSA also incorporates the Natural Resource Conservation Service’s Resource Management System (RMS) quality criteria, which provides standard criteria for the evaluation of environmental impacts. This is important, since it assures the EMS qualifies for USDA working land conservation incentive programs.

Through the On-Farm Network, ISA specialists and technicians assist growers in their own on-farm evaluations of management systems, using side-by-side strips, GPS and combine yield monitors. Since its inception about four years ago, growers have looked at such practices as nitrogen application rates and methods, deep tillage, the need to correct soil pH for corn and soybean production, application rates for P and K, need for fertilizer with applied manure, foliar feeding for soybeans and more.