Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture

Explore our photo galleries Archive

Pollinator Conservation

May 2015

Plants are pollinated by more than 100,000 species of insects—including bees, flies, moths, butterflies and beetles—and more than 1,000 species of other animals such as birds, reptiles and mammals. The Leopold Center supports a number of initiatives that focus on pollinators, including statewide conservation coalitions and research projects funded through our competitive grants program. Find more information about our current and recently completed pollinator research projects:

For more resources, check out our Conserving Beneficial Insects with Native Plants publication, the Plant.Grow.Fly. Initiative and information about the Iowa Monarch Conservation Consortium

Here's the new White House Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators.

Mark your calendars! June 15-21, 2015, is National Pollinator Week, and Reiman Gardens is hosting Pollinator Fest on Saturday June 20. Details here.

Bio-Dome at Reiman Gardens

May 2014

Imagine the kind of planting you might find in a space station on an intergalactic outpost. The Bio-Dome display in the Hughes Conservatory at Reiman Gardens explores the fascinating world of aquaponics—growing plants in water along with fish. ISU Extension fisheries specialist Allen Pattillo  helped design the exhibit and his research is supported by the Leopold Center. More about his work   More about this exhibit

Field notes from the STRIPS team: Northeast Iowa

December 2013

In October, the STRIPS team visited Adam Rodenberg at the farm property his family manages near Elkader. The Rodenbergs established strips of perennial prairie between their annual crops to create wildlife and pollinator habitat, as well as to prevent erosion and runoff. The STRIPS team is documenting the practical application of this exciting new conservation practice, which in experimental studies has been shown to reduce sediment loss off a field by 95 percent, even when implemented on just 10 percent of the land.

Tour of the Loess Hills

June 2013

The Leopold Center Advisory Board and staff toured the Loess Hills in June, where the area forester and natural resource technicians work to maintain and improve a diverse array of farmland, pastures, woodlands, prairies and lakes in one of the Midwest's most unique geologic landforms. 

Aquaponics Grows High-Value Crops

January 2013

A Leopold Center special grant project, led by ISU fisheries specialist Dr. Allen Pattillo, is evaluating the potential of aquaponics as a sustainable form of agriculture. Basil and lettuce, grown without soil, benefit from nutrient-rich waste when partnered with seafood production. See project description

Putting Prairie Strips into Practice

June 2012

Taylor County landowner and farm manager Seth Watkins invited members of the STRIPs Research Team to visit his farm on June 11 and talk about planting prairie strips, a conservation practice pioneered with startup funding from the Leopold Center.

High Tunnel Build

May 2012

It takes team work to construct a high tunnel, which can add at least three months to the market season in Iowa. About 30 volunteers helped with this High-Tunnel Build in April at TableTop Farm southeast of Nevada. The owners qualified for a federal grant to cover part of the cost of the tunnel. The Leopold Center supported part of the cost of this event, organized by Practical Farmers of Iowa.

An Early Iowa Spring

April 2012

"No man can heed all of these anniversaries; no man can ignore all of them," Aldo Leopold wrote about the first wildflower bloom of the year. Unusually warm temperatures across the Midwest brought an early spring to Iowa - along with blossoms, tulips, mushrooms, insects and baby animals. Keep up to date on ISU horticulture at www.iowavegetables.blogspot.com. Learn about the USA National Phenology Network or the Aldo Leopold Foundation's Phenology Project.

Fire and Grazing at Whiterock Conservancy

January 2012

Managers at Whiterock Conservancy, a 5,400-acre land trust in west-central Iowa, are creating healthy and resilient landscapes by reintroducing fire and grazing to native grasslands. Watch a video about this project, or read a news release.    

The Story of Compost

December 2011

The ISU Compost Facility, established in 2008, collects leftover food from ISU dining services, along with other organic wastes, and transforms it into rich soil for landscaping. Find out what’s going on behind the scenes. Photographs by Shuyang Qu, ISU graduate student. More info about the facility [PDF]

Neely-Kinyon Field Day: Organic and Sustainable Systems

September 2011

With an ever-growing market for organic food, there’s a lot of new and continuing activity at the organic research plots on the ISU Neely-Kinyon Farm. The long-term studies show that organically-managed soils are high quality in terms of nutrient use and carbon sequestration. Take a peek during the farm’s annual field day. Download the field day flier [PDF].

Creating a Bioenergy Portfolio

August 2011

The Landscape Biomass Research Team is creating a diverse portfolio of bioenergy feedstock options for Iowa farmers. See photographs from the August 5, 2011 field day at Uthe Farm, three years after the experimental cropping systems were planted. Download more information about the research [PDF].

STRIPs Stakeholder Meeting

June 2011

This June 21, 2011 meeting brought together scientists and stakeholders at the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge to discuss STRIPs (Science-based Trials of Rowcrops Integrated with Prairies). Integrating prairie strips into rowcrops improves ecosystem services like soil stability, water quality and biodiversity. Learn more about the STRIPs project.

Measuring Sustainability and Resilience - Posters

May 2011

This May 25 workshop explored what we mean by sustainability and resilience, and some of the practical applications in Leopold Center research and demonstrations. Investigators from 20 Leopold Center projects prepared these posters about their work. This handout shows each poster [NOTE: PDF is 5.8 MB in size]

Measuring Sustainability and Resilience - Photos

May 2011

This May 25 workshop explored what we mean by sustainability and resilience, and some of the practical applications in Leopold Center research and demonstrations.

Landscape Biomass Field Day

September 2010

The Leopold Center supports an Iowa State research team that studies different crop systems to produce biomass for renewable energy. On July 22, the team offered a tour of the two-year-old research plots. Learn more about the Landscape Biomass Research Team.

Work Begins on Iowa Local Food and Farm Plan

June 2010

Work began on the Iowa Local Food and Farm Plan when the Leopold Center hosted a discussion at ISU's Scheman Building in Ames. Learn more about the Iowa Local Food and Farm Plan.

Conservation Station Launch at Ada Hayden Park

May 2010

On May 20, 2010, Iowa Learning Farms launched their new conservation station at Ada Hayden Park in Ames.

April 27th Cover Crops Field Day

May 2010

The Leopold Center, Practical Farmers of Iowa and USDA-ARS coordinate the Iowa Cover Crops Working Group, which works to improve water and soil quality.

Scenes from the 2010 Leopold Center Marketing Workshop

April 2010

The Marketing and Food Systems Initiative hosts this annual workshop featuring presentations from grantees, including the Value Chain Partnerships project. Learn more about the workshop.

Patch-Burn Grazing Team

April 2010

The Patch-Burn Grazing Team helps manage a 70,000 tallgrass prairie restoration landscape that straddles the Iowa-Missouri border. Read an article about their work in the Spring 2007 Leopold Letter, or watch videos in the On the Ground with the Leopold Center video gallery.

A Culture of Conservation

December 2009

 A culture of conservation involves strengthening our commitment to a set of values, beliefs and attitudes about the importance of natural resources to our standard of living and quality of life. [2:46 min].

Spencer Award Winners: Francis and Susan Thicke

November 2009

Francis and Susan Thicke, whose Radiance Farm organic dairy products are marketed in Jefferson County, received the 2009 Spencer Award from the Leopold Center. Learn more about them here.

Getting Your Food Locally: One Step at a Time Gardens

October 2009

Tim Landgraf and Jan Libbey own One Step at a Time Gardens, a farm near Kanawha that produces vegetables, herbs, raspberries and pastured poultry. Visit their website at http://www.ostgardens.com. [3:48 min]

Prairies and Row Crops at Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge

September 2009

A team of researchers, educators and extension specialists are conducting STRIPs, Science-based Trials of Rowcrops Integrated with Prairies, at the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge, funded by a Leopold Center competitive grant. Learn more about STRIPs

Fruit and Vegetable Working Group 2009 Field Days

August 2009

This slideshow covers two field days on postharvest handling of fruits and vegetables, one at Rock Spring Farm neaar Decorah and one at Black's Heritage Farm in Ames. Learn more about the post-harvest handling decision tool, developed by Chris Blanchard of Rock Spring Farm. [8:01 min].

Whiterock Conservancy

July 2009

Whiterock Conservancy is dedicated to conserving and protecting Iowa's natural resources, demonstrating sustainable rural land management, and engaging the public with the environment. Learn more at www.whiterockconservancy.org. [3:22 min]. 

Hands of a Sustainable Agriculture

June 2009

We have the ability to touch and feel our land and agriculture. This is our connection to sustainability. See beautiful photography set to music by Leopold Center Director Jerry DeWitt. [1:23 min]

High Tunnels for High Value Crops

May 2009

Fruit and vegetable growers around the U.S. are using high tunnels to improve crop values and extend the growing season. This slideshow features an audio explanation by Linda Naeve, ISU Extension specialist, describing high tunnel research. Read a summer 2009 newsletter article about the findings. [8:39 min]

Scenes from the 2009 Leopold Center Marketing Workshop

April 2009

The Marketing and Food Systems Initiative hosts this annual workshop featuring presentations from grantees, including the Value Chain Partnerships project.

Earth Day 2009 - Scenes from Iowa

April 2009

Celebrate Earth Day with stunning Iowa nature photography set to music. [1:41 min]

Listening to the Land: A Firsthand Look at Iowa Floods

June 2008

Yesterday I cried for the land; today I must speak for the land. In mid-June at the request of a northeast Iowa farmer, Jerry DeWitt toured some of the agricultural areas hit hardest by heavy rains and flooding. Read the column that accompanies this slideshow in the Summer 2008 Leopold Letter.

Spring at Stone Barns Center

May 2008

The Leopold Center has a new partnership with the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in New York. These images are from a recent trip to work out plans for collaboration. Read more about this partnership in the Spring 2008 Leopold Letter. Photographs by Jerry DeWitt.