SOC 3078



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In 2013, the state of Iowa released the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy (NRS) (http:// The NRS is a science and technology-based approach to guide actions that reduce the amount of nutrients delivered to Iowa waterways and the Gulf of Mexico. The NRS was developed through a collaboration between Iowa State University (ISU), the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS), and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), with support from the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). The strategy outlines opportunities and recommendations for voluntary efforts to reduce nutrients in surface water from both point sources, such as wastewater treatment plants and industrial facilities, and nonpoint sources, including farm fields and urban areas. The NRS is engaging diverse private and public stakeholders from many sectors of urban and rural society, with a primary focus on helping municipalities, industry, and agriculture to reduce flows of nutrients into waterways. This report focuses on the agricultural sector. The NRS goal for Iowa nonpoint sources, mainly agriculture, is a 41 percent reduction in nitrogen loss and a 29 percent reduction in phosphorus loss. Measurement of progress toward these goals is a central objective of the NRS. The measurement process is guided by a program logic model approach (figure 1), which outlines measurable indicators of change. The domains in which changes are tracked are: inputs such as funding; the human actors whose actions can impact nutrient management such as farmers and private and public sector organizations; land use, nutrient management practices, and edge-of-field practices for nutrient load reduction; and, of course, the load of nutrients in Iowa watersheds. Iowa NRS partners are tracking changes in inputs, human dimensions, landscapes, and water quality that move Iowa toward NRS goals.

This document reports the year-one results of a survey project that is focused on measuring changes in the human domain, mainly Iowa farmers’ knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors related to reduction of nutrient losses. The project, which is funded by IDALS and conducted by the ISU College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, is a five-year effort to collect data that will help stakeholders measure progress toward NRS objectives and to inform outreach and engagement strategies. The survey has three main objectives: measure farmer knowledge, attitudes, and behavior related to nutrient management and nutrient loss into waterways; identify barriers to and facilitators of behavior change that reduces nutrient loss; and measure change in these over time. The survey data will help to gauge progress toward NRS goals and help stakeholders to adjust and refine strategies for outreach and engagement activities that promote nutrient loss reduction on Iowa farms.



Campus Units

Sociology, Extension and Outreach


Sociology; Extension and Outreach


Agricultural and Resource Economics | Civic and Community Engagement | Community-Based Research | Demography, Population, and Ecology | Rural Sociology


Iowa State University Extension and Outreach publications in the Iowa State University Digital Repository are made available for historical purposes only. The information contained in these publications may be out of date. For current publications and information from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, please visit

Iowa Farmers and the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy: 2015 Survey Results