Previous Ecology-based Working Groups and Research Teams

Value Chain Partnerships 2002-2012

Value Chain Partnerships (VCP) was a network that brought together producers, businesses, and state and federal organizations to support new supply networks for farmer-led food, fiber and energy enterprises that follow sustainable practices. VCP was funded primarily by the Leopold Center and Wallace Winrock International. The project organized working groups to leverage funds and identify system chalĀ­lenges, foster learning and innovation, and implement solutions. 

Ecology-based VCP Groups


Flax Working Group  2005-2007

When a Cherokee company called Biowa Nutraceuticals built a processing facility for organic flax in 2004, the Flax Working Group was formed to help Iowa farmers develop a profitable enterprise for flax. The group was co-facilitated by ISU Value Added Agriculture and Practical Farmers of Iowa.


Bioeconomy Working Group  2003-2006

The Bioeconomy Working Group met four times a year in Ames to discuss ways to grow Iowa's biomass feedstock production and encourage the use and commercialization of Iowa bioproducts. Research and development projects included biofibers in plastics, kenaf production, flax fiber quality and corn stover transportation.

Grass-Based Livestock

The group sought to boost viability of the grass-based livestock industry in Iowa by supporting diverse groups of  practitioners and outreach professionals who were willing to share knowledge and work toward sustainability.

Value Chain Partnerships Fact Sheet [PDF] - A one-page file that describes the working groups and core functions of VCP. May 2011

VCP_Final_Report_Phase_3.pdf [PDF]  Feb 2010


Other Previous Working Groups

beansLong Term Agro-Ecological Research  1998-2002

LTAR began in 1997 with the first organic ag focus groups in Iowa. The Leopold Center funded the group from 1998-2002 to research side-by-side comparisions of organic and conventional agriculture. Kathleen Delate from ISU led the team, and most of the research took place at ISU's Neely-Kinyon Farm near Greenfield.


Hoop Group  1997-2002

The Hoop Group compared hoop structures to conventional facilities for swine production, beef production and other livestock. Mark Honeyman and James Kliebenstein from Iowa State University led the group.


Weed Management Team  1995-2000

This team conducted a farmer attitude survey to gain a better understanding of factors driving management decisions, and developed user-friendly weed growth indices. Researchers examined emergence data and conducted field evaluations at Iowa sites. Robert Hartzler from ISU Agronomy led the team.

Bear Creek

Agroecology Research Team  1991-2002

The Agroecology Research Team studied riparian buffer systems and operated the Bear Creek Watershed Demonstration Project. The highly successful, award-winning program worked with landowners in the Bear Creek watershed to install riparian buffers to mitigate erosion, reduce nitrate runoff and improve wildlife habitat. The Leopold Center supported the group for 12 years and the watershed project continues to operate.


Animal Management Issue Team  1990-2002

The team, led by James R. Russell from ISU Animal Science, evaluated summer systems that utilize legume forage species and intensive rotation grazing as well as winter systems that minimized the cost of using stored feeds by extending the grazing season. The goal was to develop and demonstrate profitable forage-based beef production systems that sustain or enhance environmental quality.

alfalfa weevil damage

Integrated Pest Management Team  1990-1995

The team's goals were to integrate biological, cultural and chemical controls into IPM decision models and deliver environmentally and economically sound IPM systems for sustainable agriculture in Iowa. The team targeted the alfalfa weevil and potato leafhopper. John Obrycki from ISU Entomology led the team.


Manure Management Team 1990-1995

This team considered ways to encourage sustainable animal production in Iowa, improve profitability of integrated crop/livestock systems, minimize external resource use and protect the environment. Their research included the economic pressures causing animal production operations to become larger, more concentrated and more expensive. They also looked at the impacts of swine manure on water resources. Stewart W. Melvin from ISU led the team.

woman with lamb

Human Systems Issue Team  1989-1997

This team investigated social, economic and policy factors that affect trends in sustainable farming. Study topics included Iowa farmers' adoption of reduced-input farming practices, socioeconomic factors affecting sustainability in livestock production, impacts of sustainable agriculture on rural community viability, community perceptions of water quality impacts from hog confinements, and other issues. Gordon L. Bultena and Steven C. Padgitt from ISU Sociology led the team.

cover crop rye

Cropping Systems Issue Team  1989-1995

The Cropping Systems team was charged with developing an environmentally sustainable and profitable cropping system. The team focused on strip intercropping (three or more crops grown in contiguous narrow strips) and later legumes, in collaboration with the Animal Management Issue Team. Richard Cruse from ISU Agronomy led the team.