preloader animation

Sustainable Water Management

The Sustainable Water Management Challenge Area research enhances and protects natural waters to sustain agricultural production and environmental health.

Program Contact

Dr. Kathleen Boomer

Development Contact

Catherine Maxwell

Our research focuses on:

  • Characterizing threats to ground and surface water
  • Developing cost-effective technology to mitigate threats
  • Advancing models to improve decision support and management under changing climate conditions
  • Increasing stakeholder adoption of conservation water management practices
  • Integrating long-term water monitoring programs and new research projects to improve agricultural management

Learn more about our Sustainable Water Management research goals.

Advancing UN Sustainable Development Goals

Sustainable Water Management supports the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), 17 global goals to enhance peace and prosperity, eradicate poverty and protect the environment. Specifically, this research bolsters the following SDGs:

Why Are We Tackling Water Management Challenges?

Maintaining an adequate supply of clean water represents one of the most significant challenges of the 21st Century. Agriculture accounts for more than 80 percent of water consumption and more than 50 percent of excess nutrient loads to our coastal waterways, thereby also threatening our fisheries and exacerbating human health concerns. Agriculture’s challenge to meet growing food demand while managing drought, flood and water quality risks under changing climate conditions demands audacious solutions.

Advances in sustainable water management are essential to achieving agricultural goals. Innovative engineering practices customized to local field conditions are essential to minimizing water demand, increasing terrestrial water storage and improving water quality while also enhancing crop production.

Our research programs promote stakeholder engagement with interdisciplinary scientific experts to advance precision agriculture and increase conservation practice adoption.

We Pioneer Sustainable Water Management

Congress established FFAR to increase public agriculture research investments, fill knowledge gaps and complement USDA’s research agenda. Our public-private partnerships match federal funding from Congress with private funding, delivering a powerful return on taxpayer investment.

Our Sustainable Water Management programs advance agricultural conservation practices to protect our vital water resources while addressing cost and infrastructure concerns.


Learn more about our Sustainable Water Management grants, programs and consortium.

Sustainable Water Management Awarded Grants

FFAR Grant Promotes Integrated Soil and Water Research to Support Dairy Industry Commitment to Sustainability

Awarded Amount $10,000,000   
Year 2022
Matching Funders Dairy Management Inc. (DMI), Newtrient and other Net Zero Initiative partners

Strategic Fallowing for Sustainable Water and Thriving Agriculture

Awarded Amount $970,931   
Year 2021
Matching Funders Elephant Butte Irrigation District, New Mexico State University, New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute, Thornburg Foundation

FFAR Awards $2 Million Grant to Improve Sustainability in Corn Production

Awarded Amount $2,044,214   
Year 2021
Matching Funders Iowa State University, Bayer Crop Science, The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Purdue University and Donald Danforth Plant Science Center

See all Sustainable Water Management Awarded Grants

Sustainable Water Management Consortium

Want to do more to support our pioneering research?