Producer Education of Nitrate Reduction Strategies and Evaluation of Acceptance
A comparison of economics and ecosystem services provided by six drainage nitrate reduction methods (wetlands, controlled drainage, cover crops, crop rotation, nutrient management, and denitrification bioreactors) will be followed by development of an educational program which will include a survey evaluation of the producer acceptance of these water quality strategies. The educational program providing financial and ecosystem service information will be given at five Iowa Learning Farm Field Days in summer 2011. Following the events, the producers in attendance will have the opportunity to answer mailed survey questions about their understanding of the technologies and their interest in implementation.
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.
At the end of 2010, nearly all work on the project remained as the graduate student, Laura Christianson, who is the primary person to conduct the research tasks, was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship for study in New Zealand for the calendar year 2010. A no-cost extension was granted, extending the project through 30 September 2011. All project activities will be completed between January and September 2011 meaning there were no major 2010 activities to report in this annual account.
However, as of April 2011, work had nearly finished on the economic comparison of the six nitrate reduction technologies and the producer survey had been developed. This economic comparison will be a standalone journal manuscript and is nearing submission. Iowa State University Internal Review Board conditional approval had been received for the survey and educational program. During the next several months, the ecosystem services comparison will be done and the educational program will be given during the summer months. Dates for the program include: June 23, July 6, July 13, July 19, and August 24 (all 2011). Factsheets, handouts, and posters for the program are all in early stages of development. The project is well on track for all objectives and milestones will be completed by the project end date.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
A major goal of this work is to improve producer understanding of these nitrate reduction technologies. The primary short term outcome is to increase producer and landowner knowledge of costs and benefits of various nitrate reduction strategies. 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. In the more intermediate term, this work aims to assess the factors limiting implementation of nitrate reduction strategies allowing more focused research and education for producers.
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