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

Leopold Center News

March 26, 2020

In an Iowa Learning Farms webinar, March 25, 2020, Mark Rasmussen, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture Director, discusses, "Carbonate, the Other Soil Carbon," sharing research on calcium carbonate and its role in carbon storage in soils in Iowa and the Midwest. He describes how calcium carbonate is formed, shares information on its distribution and discusses its importance as one of the largest reservoirs of carbon on the planet. 

March 11, 2020

The 2020 Shivvers Memorial Lecture, scheduled for March 27, has been canceled. The presentation, "Eating Tomorrow: Climate Change and the Battle for the Future of Food," by Timothy A. Wise, director of the Land and Food Rights program at Small Planet Institute, may be rescheduled at another date. (Note: All Iowa State University lectures have been canceled from March 23 through April 10, 2020.)  

February 24, 2020

The Special Collections and University Archives Department announced that records for the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture from 1977-2018 have been processed and are open to researchers. The collection contains the Leopold Center's administrative records, including grant applications and reports from the center's first three decades. The Leopold Center also maintains an online archive of its ongoing work, along with past annual reports, research reports and other materials in the Iowa State University Digital Repository.

February 6, 2020

During an interview with Civil Eats at the Stone Barns Center's 2019 Young Farmers Conference in December, LCSA Distinguished Fellow Fred Kirshchenmann discussed hopes and fears related to the future of agriculture -- and farmers and authors from whom he gains inspiration.

Of Interest

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 the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture.  

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. 

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, by Priyanka Jayashankara, assistant adjunct professor in Iowa State's Ivy College of Business and the Seed Science Center, and Sekar Raj, chair of the Ivy College of Business Department of Marketing.