This summer, officials in Iowa have been asking farmers to voluntarily reduce the amount of fertilizer they use. That’s because the fertilizer contains nitrates that are being washed into state waterways and creating environmental concerns locally and nationally. The runoff has been particularly bad this year, and the outcry over typical crop practices is growing. To find if Iowa farmers are complying with the government’s request, Iowa Public Radio’s Clay Masters followed the water trail.
It's been 20 years since the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers flooded, inundating much of the Midwest for months. Host Ben Kieffer looks back on this extensive natural disaster that affected millions of Midwesterns with IPR corespondent Dean Borg, Lester Graham who covered flooding along the Mississippi for NPR, and Bill Stowe who worked for Iowa Power and helped coordinate the isolation of Des Moines's electrical system when the Skunk River flooded the city.
It got pretty shaky there for a bit, as river levels fell dangerously low, slowing down barge traffic essential to exporting Iowa’s grain crops. Mike Peterson with the Army Corps of Engineers in St. Louis says they were able to keep boats moving until mother nature stepped in to make the Mississippi navigable again.
"I think it’s a source of relief for a lot of folks in the Corps, the Coast Guard and the river industry."