College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

CoE faculty grants funded by Leopold Center

The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture has awarded grants to 17 innovative research and demonstration projects that promise to move agricultural production toward greater sustainability while improving Iowa’s soil and water resources.

The research will provide new knowledge on soil health, specifically how phosphorus moves under different cropping systems and how certain changes deep below the surface (given the prevalence of minimum-tillage systems) could make soils more resilient during drought or after heavy rainfall. Other projects explore alternative systems for biomass production, growing fruits and vegetables, or providing habitat for native pollinators.

The 17 new grants, totaling $1,031,853, fall under all four of the Leopold Center’s research initiatives – Ecology, Marketing and Food Systems, Policy and Cross-Cutting.

“Natural systems are highly complex and diverse, and these projects will help us better understand this diversity so that we can use some of those principles to improve agricultural production and our food system in Iowa,” said Leopold Center director Mark Rasmussen.

The grants vary in length; four projects are for one year, 12 will be done over two years and three projects are for three years. In addition to the new projects, work will continue on a number of other multi-year projects already in progress and supported by the Leopold Center’s long-running competitive grants program. The new grants bring the Leopold Center’s current-year research commitments to $1.3 million.

College of Engineering faculty involved in Leopold Center projects include:

  • Matt Helmers (Co-Investigator) agricultural and biological systems engineering: Blurring the lines between working and conservation lands: Enhancing bird and pollinator habitat using prairie strips
  • Matt Helmers (Co-Investigator) agricultural and biological systems engineering: Improving soil health and water quality through better soil phosphorus assessment and management practices
  • Caroline Krejci (Lead Investigator) industrial and manufacturing system engineering: Supply chain management for Iowa regional food systems

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