Producer Education of Nitrate Reduction Strategies and Evaluation of Acceptance

Project Overview

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2009: $9,953.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2011
Grant Recipient: Iowa State University
Region: North Central
State: Iowa
Graduate Student:
Faculty Advisor:
Dr. Matthew Helmers
Iowa State University

Annual Reports

Information Products


  • Agronomic: corn, soybeans


  • Crop Production: cover crops, crop rotation
  • Farm Business Management: agricultural finance, budgets/cost and returns
  • Natural Resources/Environment: wetlands

    Proposal abstract:

    Decreased water quality due primarily to nitrate loadings in agricultural drainage has plagued the US Midwest for the past several decades. There are a variety of on-farm nitrate reduction technologies that can be employed to reduce this problem, but implementation may be limited by education of the available options. The outcomes of this work are (1) providing producers increased understanding of nitrate reduction technologies and (2) providing researchers increased knowledge of levels of acceptance of various nitrate reduction approaches so as to better focus educational approaches. This work will comprise a comparison of economic and ecosystem services provided by six nitrate reduction methods (wetlands, controlled drainage, cover crops, crop rotation, nutrient management, and denitrification bioreactors) followed by development of an educational program which will include a survey evaluation of the producer acceptance of these nitrate reduction methods. The educational program providing financial cost/benefit and ecosystem service information of the approaches will be given at five Iowa Learning Farm Field Days and drainage events/workshops in summer 2011. Following the events, the producers in attendance will have the opportunity to answer mailed survey questions about their background, their understanding of the technologies and their interest in implementing one or a combination. The survey will also be mailed to participants of five Field Day events where the education program has not been presented in order to obtain control data providing a baseline on producer acceptance of these technologies. The outcomes are expected to increase knowledge of nitrate reduction options among farmers.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    The goal of this work is to provide producers increased understanding of nitrate reduction technologies and to provide researchers enhanced knowledge of producer acceptance of various nitrate reduction approaches so as to better focus research and education.

    Short term outcomes: Increased knowledge of costs and benefits of various nitrate reduction strategies, including the new technology of denitrification bioreactors, for producers, land owners, and contractors

    Intermediate outcomes: Assessment of factors limiting implementation of nitrate reduction strategies allowing more focused research and education

    Long term outcomes (systemic changes): Increased adoption of nitrate reduction methods leading to decreased transport of nitrate to the Mississippi river and Gulf of Mexico

    A short term output will be completion of the economic and ecosystems services evaluation of wetlands, controlled drainage, cover crops, crop rotation, nutrient management, and denitrification bioreactors which will be used to produce an educational program for drainage events. This program will increase knowledge of these technologies among producers. Additionally, on a more basic level, this program will also increase producer understanding that there is a nitrate water quality problem associated with agricultural drainage. An intermediate term output will be the producers’ survey results; it is anticipated these survey results will bring about increased understanding of effectiveness of educational efforts and also new directions for research/education efforts pertaining to nitrate reduction. Other intermediate outputs include the economic evaluation, ecosystem service comparison and survey analysis being incorporated into a PhD dissertation, presentations at professional meetings, and/or publications in peer-reviewed journals. A final intermediate/long term outcome is potentially increased implementation of nitrate reduction approaches and a corresponding reduction in nitrate loading in the Mississippi River.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.