Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture

The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University was created in 1987 as part of the Iowa Groundwater Protection Act. The goals of the Center have been to identify and develop new ways to farm profitably while conserving natural resources as well as reducing negative environmental and social impacts. 

The Center is named for Aldo Leopold (1887-1948), a native of Burlington, Iowa, known internationally as a conservationist, ecologist, and educator. He saw the need for development of a land ethic, outlined in his 1949 book of essays, A Sand County Almanac.

Mark Rasmussen is the Leopold Center director.  A 17-member Advisory Board advises the director on policies, budget and program review.

Completed Grants The Leopold Center's full set of grant reports have now been summarized and posted to the ISU Library’s digital repository at https://lib.dr.iastate.edu/leopold_grantreports/

Leopold Center News

Paul Johnson, seated, center, with LCSA Director Mark Rasmussen and Elaine Spencer.
February 18, 2021


Paul Johnson (center) receiving the 2018 Spencer
Award at the Iowa Water Conference from LCSA
Director Mark Rasmussen and Elaine Spencer,
daughter of Norman and Margaretha Spencer

Poster on The Role of Beef Cattle in Regenerative Agriculture
December 22, 2020

A new video on "The Role of Beef Cattle in Regenerative Agriculture," by Grace German, outlines the benefits of cattle raised on pasture and managed using regenerative farming practices. The video was created as an Honors Program Senior Capstone Project in the Iowa State University Department of Animal Science - College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. German's adviser on the project was LCSA Director Mark Rasmussen.  

People out in stream with water monitoring equipment
December 3, 2020

2020: Despite everything else, a productive year for water monitoring
by Dan Haug, Prairie Rivers of Iowa watershed educator 

It’s been almost a year since Story County Conservation, Story County Supervisors, the City of Ames, and the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture and Story County Community Foundation funded a project to launch a countywide monitoring program and to support data collection and outreach.

November 11, 2020

The Leopold Center's Advisory Board will meet Nov. 18, 2020, starting at 9:00 a.m., online via Webex. Agenda.

The meeting is open to the public. The link to attend is available upon request to Mark Rasmussen at markras@iastate.edu.

Of Interest

Jazlyn Beeck, a junior in geology at Iowa State, won best undergraduate poster for "Pedogenic carbonate concretions in Iowa's Loess soils: A modern carbon sink?" at the 2020 Geological Society of America's North Central meeting, where she presented a lightning talk on the same topic. Her co-authors included LCSA Director Mark Rasmussen. 

Listen in as  KQLX-AM Farm Talk Podcast host Mike Kjar talks with Mark Rasmussen about the Leopold Center for a stewardship Wednesday interview, May 20, 2020.

10-year field-scale study on the effects of winter rye cover crops on corn and soybean yields showed no significant impacts on cash crop yields attributable to cover crop use. The study by Iowa Learning Farms and Practical Farmers of Iowa was supported by state funders and LCSA.  

New research shows integrated organic crop and livestock production systems can conform to food safety standards. In-kind support from the Leopold Center provided student assistance for the research, led by Kathleen Delate, professor of horticulture and agronomy at Iowa State, and Angela Shaw, associate professor of food science and huan nutrition at ISU. 

Findings of LCSA-supported research on the "effect of social cohesion and social networks on perceptions of food availability among low-income consumers" are published in the "Journal of Business Research" January 2020 issue.    

In the article, "Leopold Center Helping Iowa," in Wallace's Farmer, Dec. 20, 2019, LCSA Director Mark Rasmussen discusses current activities of the center and ongoing work to fulfill its mission.