The Allamakee SWCD Commissioners have revised their current policy regarding sodbusts. According to the board, “In response to an increase in the number of requests to turn very steep and often shallow pasture and timber land into row crop production, we have determined we will not approve the plan if it meets one of the following criteria.”
- If the ground has a class 6 or higher. According to the Soil Survey of Allamakee County, soils in these classes are generally not suited to the mechanized production of commonly grown field crops without special management, but they are suitable for plants that provide a permanent cover such as grasses and trees.
- If the ground is predominantly an E slope or greater. According to the Soil Survey of Allamakee County, soils with an E slope designation are generally 14-18 percent slopes.
- If the ground has a corn suitability rating, CSR, of 30 or less. According to the Soil Survey of Allamakee County, the CSR provides a relative ranking of all soils mapped in the State of Iowa based on their potential to be utilized for the intensive production of row crops. The CSRs in Allamakee County range from 95-5.
According to the board chairman, Jack Knight, “People are simply not using good judgement regarding ground they want to bring into production. Many landowners are looking for every acre they can rent due to high rentals. They aren’t paying any attention to how steep or shallow the ground is.”
According to the National Food Security Act Manual, Fifth Edition, in order to receive farm program benefits, a producer agrees to the following on any famers in which such a person has an interest: Not plant or produce an agricultural commodity on highly erodible fields unless actively applying an approved conservation plan or maintaining a fully applied conservation system.
Knight adds that there are appeal rights regarding this policy. These can be discussed with the SWCD staff.