February 17, 2022 – Ames, IA – A new research paper led by Dr. Pranay Ranjan, Department of Forestry & Natural Resources at Purdue University, and co-authored by staff and faculty at the Iowa Water Center, Iowa State University, and University of Washington Tacoma, assesses the organizational readiness of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to adopt an innovative agricultural decision-support tool to inform conservation planning. The paper is published in the April 2022 volume of the Journal of Hydrology

The article titled, “Understanding barriers and opportunities for diffusion of an agricultural decision-support tool: An organizational perspective,” is based on semi-structured interviews with leadership personnel at the NRCS across the United States. Findings indicate that decision-support tools, specifically the Agricultural Conservation Planning Framework (ACPF), can improve stakeholder engagement and heighten credibility in science within the NRCS conservation planning process. The perceived compatibility of the ACPF in the NRCS’ conservation planning process can enable staff to more readily create conservation plans that address larger watershed-scale water quality metrics.

“Decision support tools play a critical role in a time when the impacts of non-point source pollution are ever-present,” said Ranjan. “The readiness to adopt such tools is both an organizational- and individual-level decision based on the merits the tool offers to conservation planners, both in terms of its effectiveness in application and efficiencies enabled in the workflow process.”

The grant supporting this research is funded by the USDA Agricultural Research Service and administered by the Iowa Water Center with collaborators at Purdue University, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the University of Minnesota. This three-year agreement was a pilot program to explore data delivery, training resource development, and assess readiness for conservation planners to use the Agricultural Conservation Planning Framework on a national scale.

“The team engaged with the ACPF represents natural resources management, social sciences, geographic information systems, and more,” said Hanna Bates, Assistant Director of the Iowa Water Center, and co-author of the paper. “This interdisciplinary collaboration across institutions represented within this project really speaks the nature of water impairments we face.”

The article is co-authored by Emily Usher, Purdue University; Hanna Bates, Iowa Water Center; Emily Zimmerman, Iowa State University; John Tyndall, Iowa State University; Chris Morris, Iowa State University; Tomas Koontz, University of Washington Tacoma; and Linda Prokopy, Purdue University. The article is available on Science Direct for free until April 3, 2022 at the following link: https://authors.elsevier.com/c/1eaKr52cuXVMz


The Iowa Water Center: The Iowa Water Center is a federally funded organization, part of the National Institutes for Water Resources. Located on the Iowa State University campus, it is one of 54 institutes located throughout the United States and U.S territories. The purpose of the Iowa Water Center is to identify water-related research needs, provide outreach and education opportunities, and disseminate information about Iowa’s water resources to the public to form better policies and everyday practices.

Information contact: Hanna Bates, Iowa Water Center, hbates@iastate.edu