Iowa is a leading agricultural state, producing more corn, soybean, hogs and eggs than any other state, and is a major producer of numerous other commodities. That productivity has come with some costs in the form of negative environmental impacts. Of particular concern is nutrient and soil loss from farm fields into Iowa’s waterways which contribute to impaired waterways in Iowa and hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico. As part of a comprehensive effort to reduce those negative impacts, the State of Iowa in May of 2013 implemented a Nutrient Reduction Strategy (NRS) that proposed to substantially reduce nutrient losses into waterways. As part of the NRS, the State of Iowa and partner agencies and organizations, including the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Iowa State University, committed to measure progress toward the NRS’s goals. Some of the indicators of progress were defined as increases in farmer awareness, changes in attitudes regarding water quality issues, and increases in conservation practice adoption over time. The Iowa Nutrient Management Survey was therefore developed 1) to measure farmer knowledge, attitudes and behavior regarding nutrient loss into waterways, 2) to identify barriers to and facilitators of behavior change that reduces nutrient loss, and 3) to measure changes in these areas over time through an annual mail survey of Iowa farmers.
Iowa State University’s Center for Survey Statistics and Methodology (CSSM) was contracted in 2014 to conduct this mail survey with Iowa farmers annually for five years. Statistical expertise, including the development of a sampling plan and data weights, was provided by Zhengyuan Zhu, Professor of Statistics and the Director of the Center for Survey Statistics and Methodology. The overall effort is coordinated by Iowa State University Principal Investigator J. Gordon Arbuckle, Jr., Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology.