Practice Description

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.

According to the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy, wetlands remove, on average, 52% of nitrate that passes through it.

Practice Benefits

A CREP wetland in Palo Alto County, Iowa. CREP, the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, is a major state/federal initiative to develop strategically located wetlands using advanced computer technology and designed to remove nitrate from tile-drainage water from cropland areas. Please credit: SWCS/IDALS Photo by Lynn BettsWetlands provide many benefits to the landowner, local community and society including:

  • Low maintenance
  • Long life-span
  • Habitat for terrestrial, migratory and aquatic species
  • Improved water quality
  • And, they’re beautiful!

Practice Economics

  • The average cost of a wetland varies drastically depending on the location and style of wetland you choose. Costs include site planning, design, excavation, planting and tile redirection.
  • Compatible with existing federal  and state cost-share programs so farmers who implement saturated buffers can recoup  some of their costs

Other Resources

This project is part of the Conservation Media Library.

The Conservation Media Library was supported by an Iowa NRCS funded Conservation Innovation Grant to the Soil and Water Conservation Society. To learn more about the Library and access other resources, go to