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

Man leaning against fence with cattle in background
September 17, 2020

Conservation Learning Group/Iowa Learning Farms blog by LCSA Director Mark Rasmussen

Image from Youtube video of organic field day.
September 16, 2020

A virtual Organic Field Day video recorded at the Iowa State University Neely-Kinyon Memorial Research and Demonstration Farm is available for viewing on YouTube. The field day, hosted by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, covers research on a variety of crops, including corn, soybeans, oats, alfalfa, peppers, winter squash and grapes. Funders for the research include the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture. 

2019 Leopold Center Annual Report cover
May 15, 2020

The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture’s 2019 annual report is now online, with an emphasis on LCSA partnerships with Whiterock Conservancy, the Leopold Landscape Alliance, Iowa Learning Farms and others. It includes research reports on calcium carbonate nodule formation in Iowa’s loess soils and the effects of grazing system on methane emissions in pastures by Jim Russell, animal science professor emeritus. It also includes articles about Spencer Award winner and farmer Paul Mugge and sustainability scholarships provided to Iowa undergraduates. Read or download the report.

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.  

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.