Research results available for eleven Leopold Center projects

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

AMES, Iowa – Summaries of 11 recently completed research projects are available from the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University. The research covered many topics – from water quality and alternative practices for corn and soybean systems, to activities that support expansion of local food production in Iowa.

All projects were funded by the Leopold Center’s long-running Competitive Grants Program. The new reports summarize what was learned from each project, and offer links to related resources.

Two grants (combined into one final report) studied the environmental and soil health advantages of extending the conventional two-year corn-soybean rotation to three or four years by adding oats and alfalfa to the rotation. ISU's Henry A. Wallace Endowed Chair for Sustainable Agriculture Matt Liebman has been conducting this field experiment since 2002 at the Marsden Farm in Boone County. Project results showed that the longer rotation systems could reduce soil erosion by 21 to 36 percent, compared to the simpler corn-soybean rotation.

Among the local food system grants were projects to source more local food on school menus in four northeast Iowa school districts, a new incubator farm in Des Moines for recent refugees, a planning grant for a new food enterprise center near Cedar Rapids and collection of crop insurance benchmark data from Iowa fruit and vegetable farmers.

These research projects recently reported on their work and summaries of results are now available on the Leopold Center’s website at Project titles are:

  • Capturing indigenous knowledge of small grain production
  • Demonstrating farrowing alternatives for small farms: Insulated tents for sows and pigs  
  • Evaluating canola as an alternative oilseed crop and enhancing winter cover in Iowa
  • Impacts of conventional and diversified rotation systems on crop yields, profitability, soil functions and environmental quality: Stage II (Years 1 and 2)  
  • Implementing a seasonal, cycle menu for public schools featuring Iowa-grown and processed foods
  • Insurance benchmarking for Iowa fruit and vegetable producers, Year 2
  • Planning grant for the establishment of a food enterprise center  
  • Quantifying the effects of alternative surface inlet protection strategies on water quality
  • Small-farm business development incubator for refugee farmers
  • Suitability of winter canola for enhancing summer annual crop rotations in Iowa

The 1987 Iowa Groundwater Protection Act established the Leopold Center to support development of profitable farming systems that conserve natural resources through research and education programs.


Mark Rasmussen, Director, (515) 294-3711,

Laura Miller, Communications, (515) 294-5272,