Competitive grants begin in 1988--Nashua water monitoring sites are invaluable

The first year that the Leopold Center awarded funds through its competitive grants program was in 1988. That year, 19 projects were funded. The news release:

AMES, Iowa -- The first group of projects funded by the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University has been announced. The Iowa legislature created the center in 1987 to develop farming systems that combine responsible stewardship of natural resources with farm profitability.

Nineteen research and demonstration projects funded from an $800,000 appropriation have been approved. Support for these first projects comes from oil-overcharge funds. Beginning next year, fertilizer and pesticide fees collected under the rules of the Iowa Groundwater Protection Ace will be the sources of state funding for the center.

Funding for individual projects ranges from $11,800 to $107,540. Project leaders are affiliated with Iowa State University, the University of Iowa, Dordt College in Sioux Center, the Practical Farmers of Iowa, and the DeSoto Natural Wildlife Refuge.

The projects focus on energy conservation, biomass production and use, soil and water protection and conservation, pest control, and fertilizer management.

One of the grants, titled "Tillage and crop rotation system demonstration for energy and environmental efficiency," was led by Mark Honeyman, Ramesh Kanwar, and George Czapar, all of ISU. Part of the $79,250 grant was to install tile lines at the Nashua research farm. The completed grant report states, "Specifically, the 1988 project funds were used to add tile intercepts and install monitoring wells that provide researchers with more information about how tillage practices affect pesticide and nitrate leaching."

Students collect water samples at Nashua research farm. Now in 2017, 30 years later, these tile lines at 36  research plots have been used consistently for numerous water monitoring projects. The groundwater pulled from these monitoring sites have measured nutrients, fertilizer, herbicides, pesticides and more. They have been part of studies by numerous researchers for tillage effects, crop rotations, cover crop usage, for short-and long-terms; and have experienced Iowa summers with perfect amounts, too little and too much rainfall. The expense to get these installed has proved to be invaluable for researchers for 30 years and counting.

Read the final report on the 1988 grant "Tillage and crop rotation system demonstration for energy and environmental efficiency."


Photo: Students collect samples from one of the tile intercepts for a Leopold Center funded research project at Nashua, led by Michelle Soupir and Matt Helmers (grant E2012-05).