Initiative leader: Malcolm Robertson, (515) 294-1166, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Support of research, demonstration and outreach projects in the development and adoption of 'ecologically friendly' production systems
- Improvement of soil health and biodiversity in the state of Iowa and beyond
Current Working Groups and Research Teams
www.prairiestrips.org: An interdisciplinary team of researchers are investigating native prairie strips as a tool for improving the function and integrity of row-cropped farms. The project, STRIPS (Science-based Trials of Rowcrops Integrated with Prairie Strips), shows that small areas of perennial prairie, strategically placed on the contours and foot slope of a row-cropped watershed, provide multifunctional benefits for farmland health. The STRIPS experiment began in 2008 on 14 small watersheds at the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge.
Related grant projects:
- Prairie contour strips: Demonstrating the importance of custom seed mix for biological integrity (E2015-16)
- Blurring the lines between working and conservation lands: Enhancing bird and pollinator habitat using prairie strips (E2015-10)
- Investigating opportunities for enhancing farmer adoption of strategically targeted prairie strips in Iowa (P2012-08)
- Blurring the lines between working and conservation lands: Bird use of prairie strips in row-cropped watersheds (E2011-20)
- The impact of biodiversity services in row crop production in annual verses perennial landscapes (E2006-13)
- Variations in water and nutrient cycling and soil properties during agricultural landscape restoration (2004-E14)
Iowa Cover Crops Working Group: The Iowa Cover Crops Working Group is part of the Midwest Cover Crops Council, which is a working group affiliated with Green Lands, Blue Waters. The mission of the MCCC is to significantly increase the amount of continuous living cover on the Upper Midwestern agricultural landscape.
Cropping Systems Research Team: The Cropping Systems Research Team has found that adding small grains, red clover and/or alfalfa to corn-soybean cropping systems can greatly reduce the need for fossil fuels, chemicals and synthetic fertilizers, without sacrificing yields or profitability. The project has been funded by Leopold Center competitive grants, the USDA National Research Initiative, the Iowa Soybean Association, and the Organic Center.
Mid-American Agroforestry Working Group: The Mid-American Agroforestry Working Group (MAAWG) is an organization for advancing the science, practice and adoption of agroforestry by landowners and natural resource managers in the Midwest region of the U.S. The group is not a political or advocacy organization but is focused on promoting the adoption of agroforestry in the Mid-American region through expanding knowledge, coordinating and leveraging resources, and building stakeholder capacity.
The University of Iowa Biomass Fuel Project: The Biomass Fuel Project is an interdisciplinary program which aims to assess and improve university power plant facilities, biomass feedstock, and community awareness and education in biomass energy. The project utilizes a coal and biomass blend primarily using oat hulls and wood chips. The project also focuses on developing a regional energy stock in dedicated energy crops, such as Miscanthus. The project employs two solid fuel furnaces at the main University of Iowa power plant and one solid fuel furnace at the UI research park to burn the co-blended fuel.
Life Cycle Assessment: LCA is a biophysical accounting framework that has been standardized by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). LCA involves compiling an inventory of the material and energy inputs at each stage of a product life cycle, and quantifying how these flows contribute to specific resource use and emissions-related environmental impacts. This research approach can be used to examine energy use, greenhouse gases, and other emissions associated with products, livestock, and crop production systems. The Leopold Center has funded or collaborated on several LCA-related projects.
- Energy Use and Nutrient Cycling in Pig Production Systems completed competitive grant.
- Findings from the grant have been published in several journals:
- Energy-and-carbon-inventory-iowa-swine-production-facilities.pdf – Agricultural Systems, 2010
- Nonsolar-energy-use-and-global-warming-potential-iowa-swine-feedstuffs.pdf – Journal of Animal Science, 2010
- Construction-resource-use-two-different-types-and-scales-iowa-swine-production-facilities.pdf – Applied Engineering in Agriculture, 2009
- Life-cycle-assessment-of-commodity-and-niche-swine-production.pdf -- Agricultural Systems, 2010
- Comparative-Life-Cycle-Environmental-Impacts-of-Three-Beef-Production-Strategies.pdf -- Agricultural Systems, 2010
Conservation Reserve Program: This publication series, “Conservation Reserve Program: Issues and Options," began as a research project of the Leopold Center. These information sheets can help CRP contract holders assess the land-use options available to them when the contracts expire.
- Life After CRP - Decisions, Decisions, CRP-1
- Lease Alternatives for CRP Land, CRP-2
- Tillage Options After CRP, CRP-3
- Applying Fertilizer and Lime to CRP Land, CRP-5
- Resource Inventory Guide, CRP-6
- Converting CRP Contract Land to an Active Grazing System on Your Farm - Evaluating Resources and Setting Goals, CRP-9
- Converting to Pasture or Hay - Evaluating Current Vegetation, CRP-10
- Converting CRP Land to Pasture - Managing Weeds and Fertility, CRP-11
- Converting to Pasture or Hay - Repairing, Replanting CRP Land, CRP-12
- Converting to Pasture or Hay - Forage Seeding Mixtures, CRP-13
- Insect Management for Corn and Soybean, CRP-15
- Strip Intercropping: A CRP Conversion Option, CRP-17
- Planting Corn or Soybeans into CRP Sod Ground, CRP-18
- Interseeding Small-Seeded Forages into Sod with Conventional Corn/Soybean Planters, CRP-21
- Maximizing Profitability on Highly Erodible Land in Iowa, CRP-22
Managed Grazing Systems: The Leopold Center has supported research to help operators manage pastures for grazing. These publications summarize findings and how to apply them on the farm.
- The Basics of Contract Grazing fact sheet #1 of a four-part series
- Evaluating Land Suitability for Grazing Cattle fact sheet #2
- Pasture Rental and Lease Agreements fact sheet #3
- Rates Charged for Contract Grazing Agreements fact sheet #4
- A Guide to Managing Pasture Water: Off-Stream Water, Shade and Nutritional Supplementation to Modify Animal Behavior
- A Guide to Managing Pasture Water: Stabilized Stream and Pond Access Sites
- A Guide to Managing Pasture Water: Streamside Buffers
- Improving Iowa Grasslands With Managed Grazing: 5 Case Studies
- Cattle Grazing for Healthier Pastures "On the Ground" video
- Grazing Native Grasslands at Whiterock "On the Ground" video