Iowa Nutrient Research Center Invites Proposals for Water Quality Research

Cattle grazing

AMES, Iowa – The Iowa Nutrient Research Center at Iowa State University is seeking new proposals for water-quality research that can help landowners reduce nitrate and phosphorus in the state’s waterways, one of Iowa’s most pressing concerns.

The center will begin accepting proposals this week for its next round of projects. Research must be led by Iowa State, the University of Iowa or the University of Northern Iowa, according to the center’s legislative mandate. Some projects have also included research partners from other entities, including other Iowa colleges, organizations and businesses.

This year, five topics have been identified as priorities for funding:  

  • New technologies or strategies
  • Implementation methods and barriers
  • Relationships between best management practices and water quality
  • Cover crops
  • Soil health and water quality

Each topic has additional details and categories that researchers are encouraged to consider. View the full 2019 request for proposals (PDF) with more detail on the priority topics and applications instructions.

Projects can last up to two years. Proposals are due by April 24 for projects that would begin July 1. Award decisions will be made in early June.

“The center aims to spur research that can help improve existing management tools or develop new ones,” said Matt Helmers, director of the Iowa Nutrient Research Center and professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering. “Some areas identified that require more attention include ways to significantly scale up adoption of nutrient reduction practices, evaluation of water quality benefits of oxbow restoration and increasing understanding of manure nutrient concentrations and application variability to reduce risk of nitrogen and phosphorus loss and to enhance profitability.”

Questions about the request for proposals should be directed to Malcolm Robertson, the center’s program coordinator, 515-294-5692, or, or Helmers, at

Established in 2013, the Iowa Nutrient Research Center selects promising proposals every year to fund research to help meet the goals identified in the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy. Since its inception, the center has committed $8.7 million to fund 76 projects in four general areas: land-use, edge-of-field practices, nutrient management and multi-objective research. Input on priorities in these areas comes from the INRC Advisory Council and stakeholders from academic, business, agriculture and environmental interests.

Examples of past and ongoing projects are available at