Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture

Cross-Cutting Initiative

The Cross-Cutting Initiative uses a systems approach and multiple research areas to balance competing and complementary goals of ecosystem health, productivity, economic and social well-being.


  • conduct research and support education and outreach
  • increase the adoption of practices that satisfy needs for crops and livestock (feed, food and bioenergy)
  • protect the environment
  • improve agriculture's economic viability.

Key areas of interest

Water, energy, soil and alternative farming systems: It has become clear as we enter this era of new agriculture that the research issues and solutions for problems have become more complex and difficult to understand.

Outcomes for Cross-Cutting Initiative projects

  • Assessment of agro-systems beyond yield, by incorporating economics, environmental, policy and social aspects in research and outreach programs
  • Increased knowledge of mechanisms that regulate processes within farms, fields and communities to optimize management using a multi-disciplinary research approach
  • Identification of trade-offs and synergies among various farming options while quantifying the effects that these options have on soil, land, watersheds and communities. This is a comparative farming system research approach.

Initiative coordinator: Malcolm Robertson, (515) 294-1166, malcolmr@iastate.edu


cutting hayOrganic agriculture

The Leopold Center has been a strong supporter of the Long-Term Agroecological Research (LTAR) plots since their establishment in 1998 at the ISU Neely Kinyon Research and Demonstration Farm in Adair County. This work is supported by a competitive grant that is part of the Cross-Cutting Initiative. Details here