Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy Modernizes Reporting by Using an Online Dashboard

New online system will provide more frequent, user-friendly updates about the Nutrient Reduction Strategy

DES MOINES, Iowa (Aug. 13, 2021) – Today, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Iowa Department of Natural Resources and Iowa State University announced improvements to the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy’s reporting process. New this year is an online dashboard that uses visual reporting tools, like charts, graphs and maps, to share the data instead of a longer, narrative-based report. Moving forward, the online dashboards will be updated regularly as data is collected from a variety of sources and partners. Each update will focus on one of the “measurable indicators of desirable change” — inputs, human, land and water — that guide the Nutrient Reduction Strategy.

Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy model

“We gathered feedback from multiple stakeholders and put a lot of effort into developing an online reporting system that will allow us to release data faster and do it in a way that is much easier for people to read. The way people consume information has drastically changed since we first developed the Nutrient Reduction Strategy annual report. Just as the science-based conservation practices that we use to advance soil health and water quality continue to evolve, so must our reporting methods,” said Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig. “This online reporting tool also creates efficiencies and allows additional staff time to be spent getting more science-based practices on the ground to advance the goals we outlined in the Nutrient Reduction Strategy.”

“We’ve come a long way in our ability to collect, organize, and share data and information. It’s great to see the continuous improvement in the reporting process with the release of the online dashboard,” said DNR Director Kayla Lyon.

2020 Land Report

Today’s initial release of the dashboard highlights data collected in 2020 related to the landscape indicators of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy. These metrics measure the adoption of practices that affect soil health and water quality. The dashboards are grouped by “land use and in-field” practices, including the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), cover crops, nutrient management and tillage acres, and “edge-of-field and structural erosion control” practices, including bioreactors, saturated buffers, wetlands, grade stabilization ponds and terraces. The dashboards also highlight nutrient reduction efforts at municipal and industrial wastewater treatment facilities.

Some key takeaways from the land update include:

  • Iowa’s water quality wetlands treat 124,000 agricultural acres. Of these acres, 17,000 are treated by the nine wetlands that were constructed in 2019.
  • As of 2019, Iowa has 46 bioreactors and 24 saturated buffers statewide, which collectively treat about 33,000 acres. Thirteen were constructed in 2019, treating 650 acres.
  • During the baseline and benchmark time periods—1980-96 and 2006-10—there were no or very few acres of cover crops in Iowa. The 2017 USDA Census of Agriculture reported that 970,000 acres of cover crops were planted in Iowa in the fall of 2016, and the INREC Survey of Agricultural Retailers estimated 1.6 million acres. That survey estimated that 2.2 million acres were planted in the fall of 2018. 
  • During the 1980-96 baseline period, Iowa had, on average, 2 million acres of no-till and 5 million acres of conservation tillage each year. In 2019, there were 8.2 million acres of no-till and 10 million acres of conservation tillage. 
  • The annual survey of agricultural retailers found that in corn-soybean rotations, corn acres received, on average, between 170 and 178 pounds per acre during the 2017-19 period. On average, continuous corn rotations received between 200 and 202 pounds per acre during that time.
  • In the 2019 crop year, nitrification inhibitor was applied on approximately 80 percent of crop acres that received fall commercial fertilizer.
  • In 2019, 1.9 million corn acres received split commercial nitrogen application — spring and side-dress — and 5.6 million corn acres received spring application only.
  • Permits continue to be reissued to wastewater and industrial facilities listed in the NRS. As of the end of 2019, 143 facilities (91 percent) had received new permits, and 14 facilities remained to be issued.
  • In 2019, 32 facilities met nitrogen reduction targets and 18 met phosphorus reduction targets. In addition, 19 facilities have completed feasibility studies to assess needs and timelines for meeting nutrient reduction targets.
  • Overall, 58 facilities now have committed to construction schedules for increasing their nutrient reduction capacity, with planned upgrades occurring through 2027.

To view the new Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy reporting dashboard and the 2020 land report, visit nrstracking.cals.iastate.edu. Future dashboards will focus on the other indicators of desired change — water, inputs and human elements.

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About the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship

Led by Secretary Mike Naig, the Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship serves the rural and urban residents that call Iowa home. Through its 14 diverse bureaus, the Department ensures animal health, food safety and consumer protection. It also promotes conservation efforts to preserve our land and enhance water quality for the next generation. Learn more at iowaagriculture.gov.

Media Contact:
Keely Coppess
Communications Director
(515) 326-1616           
Keely.Coppess@IowaAgriculture.gov