AMES, Iowa — The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture has awarded grants for 21 new research and demonstration projects to begin this year. The grants will aid in the advancement of sustainable agriculture while protecting Iowa’s soil and water and help Iowa citizens increase the availability of locally grown foods. The new grants, totaling $1.4 million, are awarded through the Leopold Center’s four research initiatives: Ecology, Marketing and Food Systems, Policy, and Cross-Cutting.
“With 2017 being the Leopold Center’s 30th year of operations, we have reviewed the scope of our funded research projects. Over these three decades, the projects we have funded are innovative, forward-thinking and successful,” says Leopold Center Director Mark Rasmussen. “This year is no exception. The Center continues to advance agriculture and food systems in Iowa.”
The grants vary in length; five projects are for one year, nine will be conducted over two years, and seven projects run for three years. In addition to these new projects, work continues on many other multi-year projects supported by the Leopold Center’s long-running competitive grants program.
The Ecology Initiative is funding five new research projects. Topics include nitrogen in prairie potholes on farmland, integrating rye seed production and red clover into corn systems, improving soil health and water quality through better phosphorus management, exploring whether cover crops increase soil resistance to climate change, and scaling up the use of perennial vegetation for water quality and landscape diversity.
Marketing and Food Systems Initiative
The Marketing and Food Systems Initiative has six new research projects starting in 2017. Topics include connecting Latino groceries to local food producers, increasing sales of fresh food to schools through food hubs; developing local food supply chains in northern Iowa; connecting, empowering and training Iowa food entrepreneurs; developing a virtual market; and developing online training for local food leaders.
The Policy Initiative has two new project grants: one will survey farmers about Iowa farmland ownership, tenure and succession; the other will explore opportunities for leveraging public resources to engage more Iowa farmers in water quality protection.
Eight projects in the Cross-Cutting Initiative will begin this year. Topics include: education of beginning beekeepers, precision cover crop seeding, nutrient management for hop production, enhancing cover crop value with beef stocker cattle, comparison of perennial and annual cropping systems on soil health and nitrogen fertilization treatments, and others.
Descriptions of the work, who will be conducting each project and other details, are available on the Leopold Center website.
— Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture
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