Conservation Practices Inventory

LiDAr image showing conservation practices
Nutrient Management

Title:  Conservation practices inventory for select Iowa HUC 12 watersheds

Location:  Upper Iowa, Upper Wapsipinicon, Skunk, Maple, Boyer, East and West Nishnabotna, and Upper Chariton HUC 8 watersheds in Iowa

Time Period:  Work was done 6/1/16–6/30/17 but the data collected used imagery from 2008-2010.

Research Team:  Robin McNeely and Josh Obrecht, ISU GIS Facility, Calvin Wolter and Adam Schnieders, and IDNR

Project Description:  This project fulfills a priority of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy by providing a meaningful record of the in-field and off-field conservation practices for reducing erosion and nutrient loss. The State of Iowa has lacked a comprehensive database of practices in each watershed and this project contributed data to that end. Student interns visually identified and digitized six specific NRCS vegetative and structural conservation practices on the landscape using aerial imagery and LiDAR-derived products such as hillshade and slope. Hillshade provides a three-dimensional view of the ground to supplement the natural color and infrared aerial photography.  The conservation practices were collected as line and polygon features in a GIS dataset. The funding from this grant allowed for data collection in 98 of the 293 HUC 12s contained by the HUC 8s listed in the location.  After this portion of the project was completed and reviewed by DNR staff, the statewide dataset was made available for public download at


Funders:  This portion of the statewide project was funded by the INRC.  The entire four year statewide project was additionally funded by the IDNR, IDALS, INREC, AmericaView and NLAE.