The state's Environmental Protection Commission is closer to implementing a ban on spreading manure on soybean ground. The EPC instructed the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to draft a notice that begins the rule-making process for the ban.

If the rules change is approved, it could have a big effect on the state’s agriculture community. Crop producers partner with livestock producers to use manure as fertilizer. This could push some crop producers to switch from soybeans to corn.             

Environmental activists argue that soybeans don't need the nutrients provided by manure. They contend manure application on soybean fields creates nitrate pollution by leaving too much nitrogen in the soil, which then runs off into the state's waterways.

Some scientists say the fecal bacteria that winds up in rivers and lakes can suck up oxygen, killing fish, and create threats to human health.

Tracy Blackmer, director of research for the Iowa Soybean Association, says scientific studies show that soybeans do use the nutrients in manure. State regulators should focus on proper application techniques, not an outright ban.

The ban would go into effect three years after its approval for existing soybean fields.

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Associated Press