Iowa Nutrient Research Center seeks new water quality research proposals

AMES, Iowa- The Iowa Nutrient Research Center is accepting new proposals for research that seek to improve water quality by reducing nitrate and phosphorus in Iowa’s waterways.

This week the center begins accepting proposals for water quality projects that will benefit agribusinesses, farmers, landowners and others. The proposed research projects must be led by Iowa State, the University of Iowa or the University of Northern Iowa, as dictated by the center’s legislative mandate. Other research partners may include organizations, agencies, businesses, other Iowa colleges and landowners.

“The 2021 RFP was informed by last year’s stakeholder sessions. We think this guidance still captures the wide range of priorities for research that are needed to address the state’s nutrient issues," said INRC Director Matt Helmers. "But depending on the proposals we received, we will consider sound research projects that don’t fit our categories, especially those that address critical missing links that can are important tobuilding upon past INRC-funded research."

This year the center is prioritizing six research topics for funding consideration:

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

Potential applicants are encouraged to view the full 2021 request for proposals (PDF), which includes more detailed information about the priority topics and application instructions. Projects can last up to two years. Investigators that were funded in 2020 for multiple years do not have to reapply.

Proposals are due by April 30, 2021, for projects that would begin August 15, 2021. Award decisions will be made in mid-June.

Questions about the request for proposals should be directed to Malcolm Robertson, the center’s program coordinator, 515-294-5692, or, or Matt 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 funded more than 103 internal and external research projects, reaching a total amount in funds of $12 million. Funded projects fall into four general categories: edge-of-field practices, land management, nutrient management, and multi-objective research.

Ongoing and past research projects can be viewed at