A new tool has been developed to help Iowa farmers manage phosphorus.

The Iowa Phosphorus Index, developed by scientists at Iowa State University and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), uses several factors to calculate the potential for phosphorus loss from a field.

"It provides a loss rating and can be useful in understanding the process of phosphorus delivery to surface water," says Gerald Miller, associate dean of the Iowa State College of Agriculture. "It helps identify management practices that can reduce the movement of phosphorus to surface water."

The phosphorus index is designed for use by NRCS staff and others on laptop computers in the field.

The USDA state technical committee may recommend modifications before the index is put to use. Once it's recommended by that committee and adopted by NRCS, an electronic version will be available at www.ia.nrcs.usda.gov.