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Welcome to the Conservation Planning Support System Project Website

Decision Support Tools are being developed at the Southwest Watershed Research Center to:

  • Improve the science used in natural resource decision making.
  • Develop integrated information systems that combine decision tools, databases, models and expert opinion for improved management of both Midwestern cropland and semiarid watersheds.
  • Continue and enhance transfer of knowledge and technology to stakeholders, decision-makers and the public.

What are we doing?

Our work focuses on the implementation of a web application that will facilitate the decision making process for producers and soil conservationists in the midwest.

The CPSS has been designed to satisfy the following:

  1. To facilitate the decision making process for producers by incorporating information on sustainability, offsite effects, and profitability.
  2. To support the NRCS Conservation Planning Process by automation and providing tools to help soil conservationists explain how management changes affect the natural system's production, sustainability, and water quality.
    Here is a summary of the NRCS Conservation Planning Process:

      Phase I - Collection and Analysis (Understanding the Problems and Opportunities)

      1. Identify Problems and Opportunities
      2. Determine Objectives
      3. Inventory Resources
      4. Analyze Resource Data

      Phase II - Decision Support (Understanding the Solutions)

      1. Formulate Alternatives
      2. Evaluate Alternatives
      3. Make Decisions

      Phase III - Application and Evaluation (Understanding the Results)

      1. Implement the Plan
      2. Evaluate the Plan

Current efforts are focused on building a prototype of a CPSS that could address water quality issues in Midwestern agriculture. The focus of the effort is a water quality dataset from Iowa State University’s Northeast Research and Demonstration Farm near Nashua, Iowa. Among other measurements, the dataset includes corn and soybean yields and nitrogen in tile drainage from 36 1-acre sized research plots. To understand the processes controlling crop growth and the nitrogen cycle, the Root Zone Water Quality Model (RZWQM) is being applied to simulate the dataset by Liwang Ma of the Great Plains Systems Research Unit in Fort Collins, Colorado and Robert Malone of the National Soil Tilth Laboratory in Ames, Iowa. Weather and management effects can be assessed by the model to understand the tradeoffs between farm income and nitrogen entering surface waters that ultimately affect hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico. RZWQM is also being used to compare management systems given the same long-term climate inputs and management systems that have not been addressed in the Nashua experiments.

Who are we working with?

Some of the collaborators that we are working with include:
- National Soil Tilth Laboratory
- Great Plains Systems Research Unit
- Natural Resources Conservation Service ITC and the NRCS in Iowa
- Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines (Coastal)
- DESIRE - Harmonised Information System

Other Decision Support System efforts?

We are also working on a Spatial Decision Support System to support decision making on small rangeland watersheds.

Access to SDSS