The Conservation Media Library is a multimedia storing house for conservation photos, graphics, informational videos, factsheets, PowerPoints, and other resources. The Library is open to all, and all materials can be downloaded and circulated free of charge.

The Library is focused on conservation happening on the ground. It includes over 600 professional photos of farmers and landowners who are in the process of installing these practices. The Library also includes drone footage and aerial photographs so that visitors can see a bird’s eye view of large-scale practice implementation.

The Conservation Media Library is focused on six conservation practices:

  1. Cover Crops
  2. Drainage Water Management
  3. Saturated Buffers
  4. Prairie Strips
  5. Bioreactors
  6. Wetlands

Cover Crops

Cover crops are an increasingly popular conservation practice that has been used to protect soil, water, and economic resources on farms across the nation. Cover crops are planted in addition to a cash crop, like corn or soybeans, in order to gain environmental and economic benefits. 

In a typical corn–soybean rotation, there are only living roots in the ground four to five months out of the year. Fall and spring rains often arrive when there are no living roots on agricultural fields, leading to nitrate-nitrogen and phosphorus being washed away. Cover crops provide living roots throughout much of the year, absorbing nutrients and preventing loss.



Drainage Water Management

Drainage water management (DWM) is an exciting new technology that helps farmers control the amount and timing of water leaving agricultural fields through tile lines. DWM works by adding water control structures to existing tile networks to raise or lower the water table to a desired elevation depending on crop needs.

A DWM system gives farmers greater soil moisture control, takes no land out of production, helps retain nutrients on farmland, increases soil carbon and boosts yields. 


Saturated Buffers

Saturated buffers are another exciting new technology that allows farmers to pass drainage tile water through perennial vegetation in order to reduce nutrient loss to local waterbodies. Saturated buffers do not impact farmers cash crops, take very little land out of production, and have water quality and habitat benefits. 

Image of a saturated buffer


Prairie Strips

By strategically placing strips of prairie plants in-between row crop or along streams and waterbodies, farmers can reap a multitude of benefits. Prairie strips can aid in reducing erosion and nutrient runoff, increasing habitat and food sources for wildlife, and stream bank stabilization. 

Man standing in prairie strip between corn fields



Bioreactors are an innovative edge of field practice that filters drainage tile water through woodchips to remove nutrients and protect water quality. Bioreactors remove nitrate-nitrogen from tile water, require very little maintenance and do not impact in-field management.



A wetland is a shallow pool that filters sediment, nitrate and other nutrients while also offering flood mitigation and habitat benefits. Constructed wetlands can be specifically designed for agriculture landscapes to intercept drainage tiles, treating the water, before releasing it back into a tile line, ditch or stream.



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This project was funded by the Iowa Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.

Conservation Media Library logo

Upon use of photos, please use one of the following citations dependent on photo choice: NRCS/SWCS photo by Lynn Betts or SWCS/IDALS photo by Lynn Betts.