Research Bulletin (Iowa Agriculture and Home Economics Experiment Station)


This is a study of some physical and economic aspects of planning for the conservation and development of soil and water resources on a small watershed basis. Specific problems covered are: (1) applying multipurpose concepts which have guided river-basin planning to the evaluation of conservation needs and development opportunities in much smaller drainages, (2) reconciling the economic objectives and management plans of farmers who control watershed uplands with the objectives and plans of other private or public economic subunits affected by upland use and (3) formulating optimal development programs for small watersheds, defined as programs that will maximize discounted net benefits without forcing any economic subunit to incur net losses. The study's main objective was to treat these problems by illustrating procedures both for evaluating development possibilities and for devising alternative optimal development programs. Emphical investigations focused on the 480-acre Nepper Watershed, which includes parts of seven farms in Monona County of western Iowa and drains into the Maple, Little Sioux and Missouri rivers.

Planning in the Nepper Watershed was directed toward determining particular combinations of land treatment and structural measures effective in achieving a community objective, or "planning norm," from a complex of land, labor and capital resources available at a given point in time (specified as the year 1947). Potential beneficiaries of cooperative development were seven farm operating units, Monona County and the offsite area.



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