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The Science of Improving Iowa’s Water Quality

Don’t P down my leg and tell me it’s raining

Posted on December 5th, 2019

Plants require nutrients for growth and agronomists divide these into macro- and micro-nutrient groups, depending on the quantity needed. Most important for both crop production and water pollution here in Iowa are the macronutrients of nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P). Nitrogen is the beer of the nutrient world. We drink a lot of it, spill […]

Cry Me a Raccoon River

Posted on December 2nd, 2019

Note: the title was not my idea, but I have permission to use it.  I suppose we all experience certain days when events crystallize our ideas in ways such that the day and the ideas will both go unforgotten. November 14 was one of those days for me. That day I conducted a presentation at […]

Iowa is Hemorrhaging Nitrogen

Posted on November 7th, 2019

Someone once told me “for god’s sake start at the end” when giving a presentation, and since there is a lot to unload with this one, I’ll give you a couple of nuggets if you don’t have time to read the rest: For the 2019 Water Year (10/1/18 to 9/30/19) Iowa stream nitrate load was […]

Drain Brain

Posted on October 14th, 2019

Note: This essay was co-written with my colleague Professor Silvia Secchi. Some people read these essays and say I (CJ) don’t offer solutions. I disagree with this: apply nutrients at recommended rates, accurately take credit for manure nutrients, don’t apply manure to snow, plant stream buffers, quit cropping in the 2-year floodplain, and so forth. […]

MMPs are CRAP

Posted on October 3rd, 2019

An article authored by Anna Jones recently appeared in the U.S. on-line version of The Guardian about Iowa and our struggle with nitrate pollution. One thing in particular about the article caught my eye and it was the description of a Marshall County farmer’s management of hog manure. He and his brother borrowed $1.5 million to […]

Fishing in the Rain

Posted on September 25th, 2019

I’ve always liked fishing in the rain for several reasons, not the least of which is that the fish bite. But it can’t be just any rain; a slow and steady warm rain with no wind and no lightning is best. Fish won’t bite if there’s lightning, and besides I’m terrified of lightning and if […]

It’s Their Way or the Highway

Posted on September 16th, 2019

Soil and water conservation districts (SWCDs) are local government units established under state law to help implement natural resource management programs at the local level. There are 100 of these districts in Iowa (one in every county; Pottawatomie County has two) and they are led by a 5-member elected panel of commissioners. SWCDs are staffed […]

Middle of Nowhere is Downstream from Somewhere

Posted on September 4th, 2019

I have been trying to get out with my fishing boat lately and last Friday evening I launched it from the Sturgis Ferry access in south Iowa City. Even though the water was treacherously shallow, I motored up to the railroad bridge near the Iowa City Dairy Queen and caught a few channel cats. Later […]

Demand Clean Water Now

Posted on August 26th, 2019

Prologue: Some time ago, I wrote an essay for the Iowa Ideas Magazine , which was published yesterday by the Cedar Rapids Gazette. That piece forms the bulk of this essay. There was no compensation for me related to the Gazette piece, in case you are wondering. The title here for the essay is mine […]

Quasky

Posted on August 14th, 2019

The sport of angling has spawned thousands of writers beginning with Jeremiah (Old Testament, 1000 BC), to Izaak Walton (Compleat Angler, 1653), to Ernest Hemingway (The Sun Also Rises, 1926, great book, and The Old Man and the Sea, 1952, way-overrated) and Norman Maclean (A River Runs Through It, 1977, best fishing book ever). That […]