Nutrient Sensor Action Challenge

Due Date: 09/20/2017

The Nutrient Sensor Action Challenge builds upon the 2014 Nutrient Sensor Challenge, which helped develop affordable, high-performing, continuous nutrient sensors and analyzers. The 2017 challenge calls for demonstrations showing:

  1. the effective use of low-cost continuous sensors,
  2. innovative partnerships to pilot the sensors and manage data, and
  3. how collected information can be used in state and local decision-making

By building successful strategies for incorporating nutrient sensors into existing water monitoring efforts, the Challenge can help states and local communities overcome barriers to preventing and reducing nutrient pollution.

The Challenge has two stages:

In Stage 1, teams will submit action plans describing an approach for sensor deployment and use, and how they will meet challenge goals. Stage 1 closes September 20, 2017.

The plans will be judged and up to 5 winning applications will be selected. The top entries will be awarded cash prizes totaling $50,000 and invited to participate in Stage 2.

In Stage 2 of the Challenge, teams will deploy the sensors and collect data as they compete for a share in $100,000 in prizes. Stage 2 will take place in spring 2018.


The Nutrient Sensors Action Challenge is open to communities and organizations in the United States interested in deploying two or more low-cost (less than $15k) continuous nutrient sensors to address an important water quality problem. Teams should be currently engaged in water quality monitoring and have some level of experience and as well as sophistication with data management, and communication. Teams should include a team lead to serve as the primary contact; the number of team members is not limited. 

The Challenge is sponsored by:

  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
  • NOAA-directed U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS)
  • Alliance for Coastal Technologies (ACT)
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
  • National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST)

Learn more about this opportunity > >

When we were young, we had trouble seeing the cattle in the grassland. Now we can see the mice.
— Chinese farmers as quoted in The Coming Famine by Julian Cribb