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The Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy is a science and technology-based framework to assess and reduce nutrients to Iowa waters and the Gulf of Mexico.  It identifies practices that farmers can implement to lower the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus running off of their farmland.  

In order to make the best decisions about how to use these practices on their land, farmers need to know the costs associated with each practice.  The Nutrient Reduction Strategy Decision Support Tool was created to provide farmers with a straight-forward cost analysis of various Nutrient Reduction Strategy practices, so that they can make more informed budgeting decisions.  

The tool estimates the amount and timing of costs associated with each practice and includes information on the availability of government cost-share programs for each practice.

View the costs covered in the current version of the tool.

Important caveat:

Please note that the direct and indirect cost of any Best Management Practice can vary considerably from site to site and are largely contingent on: initial conditions, hydrology, soils, cropping system, practice design, management characteristics and experienced opportunity costs (which can be highly variable).  The costs presented here are simply baseline numbers and are meant to be informative rather than prescriptive.

Current plans for the future of the support tool

  • Improve ease of use
  • Fix bugs and errors
  • Improve cost information
  • Create web-based practice calculators

Current release status

The current release status is beta.  Your feedback on estimated costs, bugs/errors, and ease of use are very important in helping the project improve.  Please contact John Tyndall, if you have any questions about this BMP cost assessment tool!


This cost tool updates and expands upon Christianson et al. (2013) and utilizes standardized discounted cash flow techniques relevant to water quality oriented agricultural Best Management Practices. For a more detailed overview of these methods please see:

Christianson L, Tyndall JC, Helmers M. (2013) Financial Comparison of Seven Nitrate Reduction Strategies for Midwestern Agricultural Drainage. Water Resources & Economics

Tyndall JC, Roesch G. (2014) A Standardized Approach to the Financial Analysis of Structural Water Quality BMPs. Journal of Extension. Vol. 52, Num. 3, 3FEA10.

Costs Covered in the Tool

Costs for the following practices are covered in the current version of the tool:

Practice Category

Practice Name

Detailed Cost Sheet (pdf)

NRCS or Farm Service Agency 2016 - Cost Share info (pdf)

Edge of Field

Reconstructed wetlands 

2016 Cost Sheet for Constructed Wetlands

FSA Practice CP 23A Wetland Restoration (Non-Floodplain)

Note: there are a number of different wetland programs that may be relevant in your situation.


Bioreactor (Woodchip) 

2016 Cost Sheet for Denitrifying Bioreactors

NRCS EQIP Denitrifying bioreactor- Practice Code 605


Riparian Forest Buffer

2016 Cost Sheet for Riparian Forest Buffer

FSA Practice CP 22 Riparian Buffer


Vegetative Filter Strip (riparian) 2016 Cost Sheet for Vegetative Filter Strip FSA Practice CP 21 Filter Strip


Saturated buffers (riparian) 2016 Cost Sheet for Saturated Buffer Saturated Buffers in Iowa Watersheds
  Drainage management (Controlled drainage) 2016 Cost Sheet for Drainage Water Management (Controlled drainage)

NRCS EQIP Drainage water management written plan - Practice code 130

NRCS EQIP Drainage water management - Practice code 554

  Drainage management (Shallow drainage) 2016 Cost Sheet for Drainage Water Management (Shallow drainage)

EQIP Drainage Water Mgt written plan - Practice Code 130

NRCS EQIP Drainage Water Mgt - Practice Code 554

Land Use Change

Prairie Strips

2016 Cost Sheet for Prairie Strips FSA Practice CP 15A Contour Grass Strips

Cover crops (Winter rye)

2016 Cost Sheet for Cereal Rye Cover Crop NRCS EQIP Cover Crops - Practice Code 340
  Herbaceous Biomass (switchgrass) In development  

Extended rotations

In development  

Grazed pasture

In development  
  Living mulch (Kura clover) In development