Newly completed research summaries available from Leopold Center

July 5, 2016

AMES, Iowa—Summaries of three recently completed research projects are now available from the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University. The projects were funded by the Center’s long-running Competitive Grants Program. The reports summarize how each project was conducted and what was learned.

The three research projects are:

  • Economic Impacts of Soil Erosion in Iowa,
  • Market Development and Logistics for Local Food Distribution in the Cedar Valley, and
  • Protecting Iowa’s Land Legacy: Soil and Water Conservation Policy­–Past, Present and Future.

The project “Economic Impacts of Soil Erosion in Iowa” was led by Rick Cruse, Iowa State University agronomy professor. The project is connected with a larger effort, The Daily Erosion Project:  Cruse and fellow investigators looked at seven farm sites across the state with known corn-soybean cropping histories. They used a combination of measured topsoil depth at specific locations and the crop yield of those locations to identify the effect of topsoil depth on yield. The researchers found that the cumulative effect of soil loss is significant and can contribute to a large loss of revenue for the farming community.  The reports for this project can be found at:

“Market Development and Logistics for Local Food Distribution in the Cedar Valley” explored whether a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) food box program would be beneficial in the Cedar Valley region of Iowa. Jodie Huegerich, Local Food program manager at the University of Northern Iowa, worked with the Iowa Food Hub to explore possible expansion into the Cedar Valley. The Iowa Food Hub is a distributor in Northeast Iowa. The project ended with a CSA-food box program being established at UNI in Cedar Falls, through the Iowa Food Hub. The reports for this project can be found at:

The third completed research project looked at policy opportunities to help farms advance water quality and soil health. “Protecting Iowa’s Land Legacy: Soil and Water Conservation Policy–Past, Present and Future” used surveys, focus groups, and a two-day conference to explore how state and federal policies can help with farm conservation practices. The project was led by Neil Hamilton, director of the Agricultural Law Center at Drake University, Des Moines. He and his staff prepared materials that reviewed Iowa’s soil and water conservation policies. They also held a two-day conference for nearly 200 people across the state involved in agriculture and the political arena. Insights from the conference attendees can help to shape future legislation regarding Iowa’s soil and water. Project reports can be found at:

The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture was established in 1987 through the Iowa Groundwater Protection Act. It is a research and education center at Iowa State University created to identify and reduce negative farming impacts and to develop new ways to farm profitably while conserving natural resources. The Center’s competitive grants program awards funds to researchers and investigators across Iowa, extending more than 500 competitive grants since 1988. For more information about the Leopold Center, visit the website: