Establishing Pragmatically Dynamic Program for Extending Water Quality BMP Financial Information: Farmer Tools for Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy

Date: 
Feb 2013

Issue

The Iowa Science Assessment of Nonpoint Source Practices document, first released in November 2012, included cost and cost-efficiency assessments for more than a dozen nitrogen and phosphorus management strategies. Yet fluctuating prices for product, labor, equipment, rent and many other factors mean those 2012 cost figures need to be updated periodically.

Objective

Preventing and/or mitigating water quality impacts from row-cropping systems depends on private management on farms. Farmers need solid financial information and user-friendly tools to help them make decisions about adopting effective non-point source Best Management Practices (BMPs). This project will further investigate existing practices by adding value to the current financial assessments presented in the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy.

Approach

The cost and cost-efficiency assessments presented in Section 2.1 of the Iowa Science Assessment of Nonpoint Source Practices for in-field and edge-of-field nitrogen and phosphorus management strategies will be updated. BMP decision support tools (spreadsheet-based budgets) will be developed and made available on the Web. These transparent decision support tools will help farmers and technical service providers more accurately assess potential costs of adopting BMPs using annually updated input costs, expected yields and rental charges (or other expected opportunity costs). Focused discussions will be held with farmers to test the tools and expand understanding of farmer-perceived opportunity costs and general decision-making. An exploratory off-farm economic environmental benefit analysis will be conducted. Updated annualized costs will be assessed across a range of opportunity costs to allow for more variable and explicit field-level farmer consideration of potential costs. The impact that current conservation programs can have on farmers’ costs also will be considered.

Project Updates

September 2016

FINAL REPORT

This project involved the development of user-friendly financial decision support tools, in the form of spreadsheet based budgets, to help producers make sound decisions on Best Management Practices (BMPs) promoted in the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy. As part of this project, the financial cost assessments presented in Section 2.1 of the Iowa Science Assessment of Nonpoint Source Practices (May 2013) were updated. Now farmers and technical farm advisors have a suite of decision support tools presenting critical BMP cost information in a format that is up-to-date, comprehensive and user-friendly. 

March 2016

This project involved the development of user-friendly financial decision support tools, in the form of spreadsheet based budgets, to help producers make sound decisions on Best Management Practices (BMPs) promoted in the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy. These tools now are being integrated into a website that will feature the downloadable BMP cost tool, a brief case study analysis for each practice, a resource section that features printed materials for each practice, and videos of practices being installed.

September 2015

Nutrient reduction strategy spreadsheets and cost tools to help farmers make financial decisions about Best Management Practices are being independently validated and reviewed. Work is underway to make the materials available online. The next step will be introducing the materials to the agriculture community, and plans for that rollout are being developed.

June 2015

This project is creating user-friendly tools to help farmers make decisions about adopting effective non-point source Best Management Practices (BMPs). Nutrient reduction strategy spreadsheets and cost tools for BMPs are complete, including updates made after an initial round of feedback from extension professionals and technical service providers. Conversion of the worksheets and associated information into a web-friendly format is underway. An accompanying extension oriented document is being produced to complement the tools and serve as a review document.

March 2015

This project will provide farmers with solid financial information and user-friendly tools to help them make decisions about adopting effective non-point source Best Management Practices (BMP). Nutrient reduction strategy spreadsheets for BMPs are complete, with minor text editing remaining. The nitrogen-based part of the tool was presented at the fall training session for ISU Extension and Outreach farm management specialists, and suggested edits are being sought. The phosphorus section of the tool is under development, as are cost-sheets and other supporting appendices that will function as source information, bibliography and usage manual for the tool.

December 2014

Nutrient reduction strategy spreadsheets have been completed as part of a project that is providing farmers with solid financial information and user-friendly tools to help them make decisions about adopting effective non-point source best management practices (BMP). ISU Extension and Outreach’s water quality team and other farm management specialists are assessing the nitrogen-based part of the tool. The phosphorus section of the tool is under development.

September 2014

The goal of one project is to provide farmers with solid financial information and user-friendly tools to help them make decisions about adopting effective non-point source Best Management Practices (BMPs). Nutrient reduction strategy spreadsheets for BMPs are complete for most practices with formatting, testing and editing to be completed. The decision tool is under development with a new “success stories” section planned. ISU Extension and Outreach’s water quality team is assessing the nitrogen-based part of the tool.

June 2014

The goal of one project is to provide farmers with solid financial information and user-friendly tools to help them make decisions about adopting effective non-point source Best Management Practices (BMP). BMP budgets have been developed for the majority of the nitrogen and phosphorus management practices described in the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy. Spreadsheets are being developed for newer, emerging BMPs such as re-saturated riparian buffers and prairie strips. A beta version of a user-choice decision tool has been developed and work is underway to interface the financial spreadsheets with existing Iowa State University Extension and Outreach materials as well as Natural Resources Conservation Service practice standards. The team also is adding financial assessment capacity into the P-Index Calculator and ISU’s Subsurface Drainage Bioreactor Design Calculator.

March 2014

Farmers need solid financial information and user-friendly tools to help them make decisions about adopting effective non-point source Best Management Practices (BMP). This project began with development of preliminary BMP budgets for the majority of the nitrogen and phosphorus practices described in the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy. Design work is underway on spreadsheets that could be used by producers as they analyze BMP options on their farms.

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