Iowa Nutrient Research Center Invites New Proposals for Water Quality Research

Antonio Mallarino, Iowa State University agronomy professor and researcher, speaks to group at an INRC water quality research field day, fall 2019. 

AMES, Iowa – The Iowa Nutrient Research Center at Iowa State University seeks new proposals for research that can help landowners, farmers, agribusiness and others improve water quality by reducing nitrate and phosphorus in the state’s waterways.

The center begins 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. Other research partners can include agencies, organizations, other Iowa colleges, businesses and landowners.

This year, six main research topic areas are prioritized for funding consideration: 

  • Integrated crop and livestock systems
  • Socio-economics related to water quality
  • Changing climate
  • In-stream processes and scales of N and P yields
  • Synergistic and unintended consequences
  • New technologies

Each topic area includes additional guidance that potential applicants are encouraged to consider. View the full 2020 request for proposals (PDF) with more detail on the priority topics and application instructions.

Projects can last up to two years. Proposals are due by May 15 for projects that would begin August 15, 2020. Award decisions are scheduled to be announced in mid-June. Investigators funded in 2019 for multiple years do not have to reapply.

“The center is focusing research in areas identified as important to help Iowa effectively scale up its water quality improvement efforts for the sake of our citizens and those downstream. These topics were arrived at with help from a diverse set of stakeholders that include NGOs, landowners and farm organizations, agencies, conservation interests and water quality researchers,” said Matt Helmers, director of the Iowa Nutrient Research Center and professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering.

“Depending on the mix of proposals we receive, we may also consider other sound projects," Helmers said, "especially those that address critical missing links important to refine past INRC-funded research.”

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 $10 million to fund 92 projects in four general categories: edge-of-field practices, land management, nutrient management, and multi-objective research.

Ongoing and past projects are available at