Jointly Promoting Environmental and Economic Benefits in Corn Belt Agriculture through Spatial Optimization
Presenter: Ellen Audia, GIS certificate candidate, natural resource ecology and management
Advisors: Lisa Schulte Moore, professor, natural resource ecology and management, and John Tyndall, associate professor, natural resource ecology and management
Shifts in U.S. agriculture from small, diverse farms to large, high-input monocultures have contributed to food security and economic growth, but also to environmental impairments such as nutrient and sediment loading and biodiversity loss. In response, many conservationists are spatially targeting best management practices (BMPs) across agricultural landscapes to more efficiently focus time and resources.
In this analysis, Audia developed a multi-objective spatial optimization model to target BMPs across East Big Creek watershed of central Iowa. She used the Agricultural Conservation Planning Framework (ACPF), the ACPF Financial Tool and the Healthy Farm Index (HFI) to inform the optimal placement of contour buffer strips, riparian buffers and nutrient retention wetlands across the watershed so that water quality and biodiversity were maximized subject to a range of cost constraints.
Both the methodology and the output landscapes from this analysis can help inform land-use planning in East Big Creek and other watersheds.