An integrated assessment framework to evaluate conservation practices and environmental and economic benefits: A case for central Iowa

Jul 2023


The Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy (INRS) aims to reduce nutrient discharge into Iowa streams and water bodies. Its goal is to decrease nutrient losses by 45% by 2035, aligning with the Gulf Hypoxia Action Plan. Challenges persist as nitrogen and phosphorus levels remain high in Iowa streams, leading to algae blooms, eutrophication and fish kills. Economic studies often underestimate benefits of conservation practices due to a limited understanding of ecosystem services, however, ecohydrological models, such as the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT), are recommended to test optimal management systems and provide inputs for economic models.


Researchers plan to develop a model that connects SWAT with an Economic Benefit Model for the Des Moines River Basin (DMRB) in central Iowa that can better quantify the benefits of adopting conservation practices in the region.


To address these issues, the team will use a methodology that integrates simulation models, data and economic analysis to assess the impact of best management practices on water quality and associated economic implications.