Des Moines, Iowa, May 17, 2022 – Iowa’s largest farmer-owned grain cooperative and Des Moines Water Works, the state’s largest drinking water utility, have joined for a unique project that demonstrates how farming and improved water quality can coexist.
Landus and Des Moines Water Works (DMWW) have created “Plots in the Park” – an innovative and effective example of upstream-downstream collaboration that could be the first of its kind. Members of the public will be able to see corn, soybean and cover crops planted and grown in Des Moines Water Works Park, a 1,500-acre urban green space near downtown known for its wooded and open areas for bicycling, jogging, picnicking, fishing, hiking and participating in various group sports. Its location next to the Racoon River is a prime location for the water utility to collect and filter water for the 600,000 central Iowans it serves.
The collaboration between Landus and DMWW signifies the importance of bringing together urban and rural partners to increase awareness about source water protection. “Plots in the Park” demonstrates agriculture’s modern processes in action – from planting and weed and pest management, to harvesting and everything in between.
“DMWW is committed to leading and advocating for improved surface water quality in Iowa,” said Ted Corrigan, the CEO/General Manager of DMWW. “We understand that meaningful improvement will not be possible without large-scale implementation of the types of modern agricultural best practices, which Landus will demonstrate in Plots in the Park.”
Landus President and CEO Matt Carstens says companies such as Landus, which farmers depend on, must reach across aisles to work with nontraditional partners to build better solutions.
“We are proud of the work our farmers do, but also recognize concerns from those outside of agriculture,” Carstens says. “The ag industry must be willing to sit at the table and work alongside others with differing perspectives. Landus is working diligently to bridge the gap between the work happening on Iowa farms and the many communities and industries impacted by it.”
Landus employees will conduct educational tours of the plots for visiting agricultural producers and groups. The plots have been developed with guidance from DMWW grounds employees regarding chemical usage and location within the park, which is a natural water filter. Visitors will read about concerns and ideas for how to improve Iowa’s water quality directly from educational materials on site.
The unique partnership brings farmers directly to the utility to participate in conversations that foster transparency, collaboration and education. Demonstrating the many sustainability practices Iowa farmers are implementing, Landus farmers seek to showcase modern, safe and stewardship-minded agricultural practices in the public setting and build a better bridge to community-members outside of the industry. In turn, DMWW will work with Landus to bring the drinking water utility’s visitors to Landus’ new Innovation Center to learn more about best management practices.
“DMWW and urban residents have a legitimate and compelling concern on issues that impact water quality, particularly when it comes to farming operations” Carstens says. “Landus wholeheartedly shares that concern and strives to work with farmers to continue to deploy responsible farming practices in the communities where our farmers also raise their families.”
Corrigan said DMWW builds relationships with trusted partners such as Landus, who share the drinking water utility’s vision for improved surface water quality.
“By bringing Iowa’s farmers to Water Works Park where they can hear our story and understand the challenges we face, we believe we can create the type of upstream-downstream collaboration it will take to drive real change in Iowa,” Corrigan said.
Through the partnership, both organizations seek to gain understanding in the effort to reduce nutrient runoff and drive continual improvement. The farmer-owned cooperative prioritizes data-backed solutions driving agronomic recommendations, and the largest water utility in the state will continue to focus on providing safe, affordable drinking water for its residents.
“Plots in the Park” will be open to the community toward the end of May.
Landus is a farmer-owned agricultural cooperative headquartered in Ames, Iowa. It employs about 600 full-time employees at locations in more than 60 communities to serve 7,000 farmer-owners. Landus is Iowa’s largest agricultural cooperative providing unmatched scale, expertise, facilities and logistics. Its products and services span the five pillars of agronomy, grain, feed, animal nutrition and data. For more information visit landuscooperative.com
About Des Moines Water Works
Des Moines Water Works (DMWW) provides drinking water to approximately 600,000 customers in the Des Moines metro area and sells water to many cities and other entities in central Iowa. DMWW is proud to have the next-to-highest revenue bond rating in the water utility industry and water rates below the national average.
DMWW operates three water treatment plants: Fleur Drive, L. D. McMullen Treatment Plant at Maffitt Reservoir and Saylorville Water Treatment Plant. The utility maintains 1,400 miles of buried water mains, which have 9,800 valves, more than 80,000 water meters and automated reading devices, nearly 10,000 fire hydrants, 10 water storage tanks and 10 booster pumping stations.
DMWW also operates Des Moines Water Works Park and Maffitt Reservoir Park. Water Works Park is approximately 1,500 acres of land near downtown Des Moines and is one of the largest urban parks. Maffitt Reservoir includes 1,300 acres of land, including wooded areas and a 200-acre lake popular for fishing, canoeing and kayaking.