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.

Stephen J. Dinsmore is the Leopold Center's interim 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

Young woman smiling, in black top with dark hair
March 21, 2023

AMES, Iowa — Author Hannah Lewis will present the 2023 Shivvers Memorial Lecture, Thursday, April 6 at 5:30 p.m., in the Iowa State University Memorial Union, room 3580. The event is free and open to the public.

Lewis, an Iowa State alumna, is the author of “Mini-Forest Revolution: Using the Miyawaki Method to Rapidly Rewild the World.” The 2022 book, with a foreword by well-known environmentalist Paul Hawken, promotes an international movement to restore biodiversity by transforming empty lots, backyards and degraded land into “mini-forests.”

View the recording from this event

Ames Reads Leopold event image
March 15, 2023

Join friends and neighbors, Sunday, March 19. 1:30-4:00 pm in the Farwell Auditorium at the Ames Public Library or online for this year’s Ames Reads Leopold event, with featured speaker Neil Hamilton, Former Director of the Drake Agricultural Law Center and Professor Emeritus of Law, will be a featured speaker. Additional readers will include local high school and Iowa State University students as well as community members.

Three men with coniferous tree.
December 2, 2022

A virtual field day will highlight saturated riparian forest buffer research at Iowa State University on Dec. 15 at 1 p.m. CST. The free event will feature a live discussion with Billy Beck, assistant professor and extension forestry specialist, Troy Heeren, agricultural specialist, Gabe Johnson, Ph.D. graduate research assistant in sustainable agriculture and agricultural and biosystems engineering, and Jonathan Notch, forestry undergraduate student. Attendees will have a chance to view the recently established saturated buffer forest buffer site funded by the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture. Find more details and registration information at: https://www.extension.iastate.edu/news/virtual-field-day-establishing-saturated-riparian-forest-buffers-landscape.

Young man with glasses outdoors standing in front of garden, field
September 22, 2022

Mark Quee on the Scattergood School
farm. Photo by Jennie Schmidt.

Of Interest

The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture’s 2021 annual report (PDF), featured work that received significant support in 2021, including the Iowa Master Conservationist Program and a project to promote adoption of saturated riparian forest buffers.

Mark Rasmussen shares comments about Paul Johnson's legacy in the article, "Remembering Two Giants of Iowa Agriculture," by Gene Lucht in Iowa Farmer Today, Feb. 25, 2021. 

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.  

A research article, The role of ruminants in reducing agriculture's carbon footprint in North America," coauthored by Mark Rasmussen, was selected by the board of the Soil and Water Conservation Society as the 2021 recipient of the Best Research Paper for Impact and Quality Honorable Mention in the Journal of Soil and Water Conservation.  

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.