Ten New Projects Receive Funding through ISU’s Iowa Nutrient Research Center

A set of nine bioreactors was installed this month at the ISU Agricultural Engineering and Agronomy Farm near Ames as part of an Iowa Nutrient Research Center-funded research project. The bioreactor research, led by ISU and the Iowa Soybean Association, was funded last year by the center at ISU. (Photo by Dana Woolley)

AMES, Iowa — Ten new projects have been funded through the Iowa Nutrient Research Center at Iowa State University.

The 10 new projects were approved for 2014-2015, and build on 10 projects already underway that were funded for 2013-2014. Some of the new projects include:

  • Stream water quality is strongly linked to land use, hydrology and precipitation. One project will develop statistical models to describe changes in seasonal concentrations and loads of nitrates in the Raccoon River at Van Meter from 1974 to the present, and how these relate to agricultural production practices.
  • Phosphorus in streams can impact water quality, but determining the source of the phosphorus is difficult. One project seeks to determine the quantity of phosphorus loss associated with ephemeral gully source sediment in 12 Iowa watersheds, plus the total phosphorus loss from these watersheds that originate from ephemeral gully formation.
  • Nutrient trading provides one possible framework for nutrient reduction that could benefit both point source and nonpoint source contributors of nitrogen and phosphorus. One project will develop the scientific basis for a nutrient trading program in Iowa using the Catfish Creek Watershed near Dubuque as a pilot watershed. This will involve relating a given best management practice to a nutrient load reduction.
  • An accurate inventory of in-field and off-site nutrient management practices is essential to establish baseline conditions and document implementation of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy. Two separate projects will develop remote sensing protocols for the inventory and monitoring of nutrient management practices. One will consider riparian buffers and grassed waterways, the other cover crops and residue cover.

A website for the Iowa Nutrient Research Center provides more details of the new projects, plus quarterly progress reports for the 10 projects that began in 2013. The website is part of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy website.

Plans for the projects were prepared by scientists at Iowa State, the University of Iowa and University of Northern Iowa, each addressing critical needs or gaps in nitrogen and phosphorus research identified in the science assessment that was part of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy. The strategy is a science and technology-based approach to assess and reduce nutrients delivered to Iowa waterways and the Gulf of Mexico.

The Iowa Nutrient Research Center was established in 2013 by the Iowa Board of Regents in response to legislation passed that spring by the Iowa Legislature and signed by Governor Terry Branstad. The center received $1.5 million for 2013-2014, and another $1.3 million this year, for research evaluating the performance of current and emerging nutrient management practices, providing recommendations on implementing the practices and developing new practices.

The center’s director is John Lawrence, the associate dean for extension and outreach in Iowa State’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and director of ISU Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension and Outreach.