Application of multi-state financial data for use with the USDA Agricultural Conservation Planning Framework

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Bravard, Emma
Major Professor
Tyndall, John C
Zimmerman, Emily K
Isenhart, Thomas M
Committee Member
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Natural Resource Ecology and Management
The degradation of water quality has been an increasing concern across much of the US Corn Belt region, specifically with regards to excess nutrient pollution. Agriculturally dominated landscapes are one of the major contributors to impairments in waterways at both local and regional scales. As Iowa and other US Corn Belt states continue to navigate water quality issues, spatially targeted conservation and watershed planning tools, such as the Agricultural Conservation Planning Framework (ACPF), can bring new and relevant information to conservation efforts. The main goal of this research was to develop and test datasets and methodologies to be used with the ACPF to quantify costs and nitrate reduction outcomes associated with best management practices (BMPs) and conservation scenarios in agriculturally dominated watersheds across the US Corn Belt. The ACPF is a GIS-based conservation planning tool that uses high-resolution geospatial data to spatially identify critical source areas for nutrient loss within agricultural watersheds and opportunities for BMPs in those locations. This research outlines an ACPF-compatible, multi-state financial dataset and a field-scale nitrogen reduction tool for use when analyzing different ACPF conservation scenarios. The incorporation of financial data and nitrate reduction estimates allows users to calculate total long-term cost and cost effectiveness of various conservation plans. The combination of these data will assist water quality stakeholders, technical service providers, Extension professionals, and landowners in determining where BMPs should be placed on the landscape to yield the most effective and lowest cost nitrate reduction at a watershed scale. Overall, the results will contribute to the conservation efforts of Iowa and other US Corn Belt states as they continue working to mitigate water quality issues in a cost-effective way.