Headshot of man with short hair, dark glasses, light-colored shirt
February 12, 2024

Matt Helmers has been making a difference on Iowa’s landscape for more than two decades. His passion for agriculture and conservation have led to a career working with Iowa’s farmers and communities as they adopt new practices to improve water quality and manage nutrients.

Wetland in background with yellow flowers in foreground
December 01, 2023

 A new educational opportunity, the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy and Your Farm Workshop, is available to interested local Iowa State University Extension and Outreach staff or other farm and community leaders. The new workshop is available to provide farmers, landowners and conservation professionals with information on the purpose, need, action items, and benefits of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy and provide tools to create a basic nutrient reduction plan for their farm operation.

A digital toolkit of related resources to use individually or in association with the workshop is also available. Follow this link to access the digital toolkit with presentation slides, handouts, advertising materials, and evaluation materials. 

The materials are based on a half-day workshop conducted in 2023. They utilize modeling tools like the Nitrogen Load Estimate Calculator and Nutrient Tracking Tool to provide tailored estimates of nutrient losses from row crop acres under current operating conditions and after  incorporation of nutrient management practices.

To inquire about planning a workshop in your area -- or for other questions -- contact Kay Stefanik, assistant director of the Iowa Nutrient Research Center. 

aerial view of a field that shows lighter areas where little or no nitrogen was applied
October 12, 2023

Despite incentives to use just the right amount of nitrogen fertilizer on corn fields, current official recommendations are broad and ideal rates can vary widely from field to field and year to year. A research team led by Michael Castellano, the William T. Frankenberger Professor of Soil Science and an Iowa State University professor of agronomy, and ISU colleague Sotirios Archontoulis, Pioneer Hi-Bred Agronomy Professor, is collecting data from trials across Iowa – mostly in fields of participating volunteer farmers – to build models that offer far more granular guidance. The Iowa Nitrogen Initiative is supported with annual funding from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.

September 29, 2023

Iowa Nutrient Research Center Director Matt Helmers will be one of the hosts at the upcoming Conservation on Tap event, sponsored by Iowa Learning Farms, in partnership with the Des Moines Water Works and Conservation Learning Group, Thursday, Oct. 19, from 6-7 p.m. at Big Grove Brewery & Taproom in Des Moines. Staff from Big Grove Brewery will join in the conversations as to why water quality matters for brewing, along with Ted Corrigan, CEO and General Manager of Des Moines Water Works, and Mark Licht, associate professor and extension cropping systems specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.


September 05, 2023

Two workshops on tile drainage and water quality intended for women in agriculture will be held this fall in eastern Iowa.The first workshop will be held on Sept. 13 at 5:30 p.m. in Hiawatha, and will include presentations on the basics of field tile drainage, the economics of tile drainage and water quality considerations. The second workshop will be held Nov. 8 at 5:00 p.m. in Cedar Rapids and will include presentations on tile drainage-related water quality practices, as well as opportunities for cost assistance. The workshops are hosted by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, Linn and Johnson counties and sponsored by a grant from Wings2Water. More details at: 

Picture of pond next to farm field with farm buildings in background
August 28, 2023

The Iowa Soybean Association’s Research Center for Farming Innovation (RCFI) is exploring the potential for drainage water recycling at the farm leve

August 15, 2023

A publication in Bioenergy Research Letters by INRC Director Matt Helmers and others, reports findings of a model-based investigation on the potential benefits of growing winter rye as a cover crop as part of corn-soybean rotations in the North-Central Region of the U.S. They concluded that harvesting fertilized rye CCs before soybean planting in this area could reduce nitrogen loads to the Gulf of Mexico by 27% relative to no cover crops, while providing an estimated 18 million Mg yr−1 of biomass-equivalent to 0.21 EJ yr−1 of biogas energy content (3.5 times the 2022 US cellulosic biofuel production).

May 24, 2023

DES MOINES, Iowa (May 24, 2023) – The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Iowa State University and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, the three principals of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy, today jointly announced that the online dashboards that report the results of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy have been updated to reflect the latest reporting period. Today’s announcement coincides with the 10-year anniversary of the Nutrient Reduction Strategy. Adoption of conservation practices continues to increase, and progress is expected to continue to build over the next decade as water quality and conservation practice implementation accelerate.

Water Security Description Flyer with colorful graphic chart - UN Water
March 31, 2023

The Water Security Initiative is a consortium of interdisciplinary researchers at Iowa State University collectively and collaboratively working towards advancing water security and justice throughout the urban-rural continuum. The mission of the initiative is to support world-class research and education in water sustainability that ensures equity for all people and care for natural and managed ecosystems. To promote graduate student research and engagement in this effort, a competitive grants program is open for graduate students at Iowa State University.

Four men and women dressed up and posing
January 06, 2023

By Madeleine Resener, GeoPols

Nitrogen, one of the most plentiful gases in our environment, is both a friend and foe to our planet and to ourselves.

Map of Iowa with watersheds outlined and yellow dots indicating monitoring sites for study
August 17, 2022

AMES, Iowa – When can we expect to see reduced levels of nutrients in our water if we make positive changes on the landscape? New Iowa State University research shows how complicated it is to give a sound answer to that question.

The research is featured in a recent article in the peer-reviewed Journal of Environmental Quality, co-authored by Ph.D. student Gerasimos J. Danalatos, Professor Michael Castellano and Associate Professor Sotirios V. Archontoulis, in Iowa State’s Department of Agronomy, and Calvin Wolter, a Geographic Information Systems analyst with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

International Drainage Symposium image
August 10, 2022

AMES, Iowa — Drainage experts from around the world will convene in Des Moines, in person, Aug. 31- Sept. 2, to discuss agricultural drainage opportunities and solutions to challenges at the 11th International Drainage Symposium.

map of U.S. and graph indicating contributions to Gulf hypoxic zone.
August 02, 2022

INRC Assistant Director Kay Stefanik shares information about the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy (INRS) N-Load model and recent revisions made to to allow for a finer scale in estimating nitrate loss. 

Steven Hall in the lab
November 11, 2021

A newly published study found that poorly drained agricultural soils emit enough of the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide that the resulting climate change effects could far exceed the benefits of using the same soils as a means of sequestering carbon.The research, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was authored by Steven Hall, associate professor of ecology, evolution and organismal biology; Nathaniel Lawrence, ISU graduate student in ecology, evolution and organismal biology; Carlos Tenesaca, research scientist in ecology, evolution and organismal biology; and Andy VanLoocke, associate professor of agronomy. Funders for the work included the Iowa Nutrient Research Center. 

Two men bending down to look at plants growing in a field of corn
October 15, 2021

Iowa State University scientists, including Raj Raman, agricultural and biosystems engineering, are leading a multi-institutional effort to reimagine cover crops by using perennial groundcovers to protect the environment and benefit crop production. The researchers recently received a $10 million grant to support their work. The Iowa Nutrient Research is proud to have funded some of the preliminary work that set the stage for this exciting project.

September 21, 2021

The Iowa Water Center and Iowa Nutrient Research Center at Iowa State University will jointly fund research to explore the linkages between water quality and social well-being for Iowa communities. Projects must be led by Iowa State University, the University of Iowa or the University of Northern Iowa. Applicants must submit a proposal intention by Nov. 1, 2021, with full proposals due November 15. Funded projects may start as early as March 2022.

August 19, 2021

A new user-friendly dashboard for the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy was released Aug. 13, 2021, which uses visual reporting tools, like charts, graphs and maps, to share the data instead of a longer, narrative-based report. The information for the 2020 report update is included within the dashboard. Moving forward, the online dashboards will be updated regularly as data is collected from a variety of sources and partners.

Cover of Whole Farm Conservation Best Practices Manual.
July 26, 2021

The Conservation Learning Group, a think tank-based organization at Iowa State University Extension and Outreach dedicated to addressing conservation and environmental challenges, has been recognized by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers with a 2021 Educational Aids Blue Ribbon for CLG’s Whole Farm Conservation Best Practices Manual. 

April 13, 2021

Alison Robertson, plant pathology and microbiology, discusses findings from INRC-supported research on potential benefits of spacing cereal rye cover crop plantings from corn crop seedings in “Corn and Soybean Digest.”   

Image used to promote drainage forum
December 10, 2020

The 2020 annual Drainage Research Forum was held December 1, from 8:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. (CDT), via Zoom.

Partners of Scott County Watersheds grants Program flyer image
November 19, 2020

Partners of Scott County Watersheds presented an online Conservation Grant Programs webinar, Nov.

September 10, 2020

 There is a risk of elevated fall soil nitrate levels due to dry conditions this growing season. Dry conditions affect soil N cycling in several ways, resulting in excess residual nitrate in the soil profile after fall harvest and the potential for substantial N leaching with late fall or spring precipitation. An article, "Water Quality Impacts of Cover Crop Following a Drought" shares relevant data from research at two sites, with recommendations for how to minimize the risk of nitrate-N loss when rainfall occurs. Co-authors: Matt Helmers, INRC Director; Brian Dougherty, ISU Agricultural Engineer; Emily Waring, graduate student, agricultural and biosystems engineering. Published by Iowa Extension and Outreach - Integrated Crop Management.

Wetland with waterfowl
June 24, 2020

"Farm News" interview with Iowa Nutrient Research Center Assistant Director Kay Stefanik about the importance of wetlands and the roles they play in Iowa's landscape. Article (June 19, 2020) by Kriss Nelson. 


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