AMES, Iowa — The Iowa Nutrient Research Center at Iowa State University announces funding of over $1.4 million to support 11 new water quality and nutrient management projects for 2021-2022.
On a cold day last fall, Iowa State University scientist Michelle Soupir and her team of graduate students shoveled out the woodchip-and-mud entrails of nine concrete-lined water-quality cells at the Agricultural Engineering and Agronomy Research Farm near Ames. They packed samples from the cells — mini-bioreactors — into plastic bags and labeled them to take back to the lab, where they would measure bacterial activity and the rate of woodchip decomposition.
“If farmers have a good year growing cover crops, they can get really excited and plant more acres. But if they have a bad year, they might never use cover crops again,” said Alison Robertson, professor of plant pathology and microbiology and a lead investigator of cover crop projects funded by the Iowa Nutrient Research Center.
More landowners are interested in planting strips of deep-rooted prairie within crop fields or on marginal land as an effective soil conservation and water quality practice. But they need reliable answers about the costs and benefits. Practical answers are coming out of projects led by University of Northern Iowa researchers, funded by the Iowa Nutrient Research Center at Iowa State University.
New research shows that “multi-purpose oxbows” can effectively reduce nitrate-nitrogen, earning them a spot in the Iowa Nutrient Research Strategy’s menu of conservation options. Keith Schilling, State Geologist and Director of the Iowa Geological Survey, is lead investigator for Iowa Nutrient Research Center- sponsored research to better understand the benefits of oxbow restoration for water quality. Partners in the research include the Iowa Soybean Association, The Nature Conservancy and the U.S. Geological Survey's Iowa Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at Iowa State.
A new technology for cleansing nutrients from water leaving Iowa’s tile-drained fields began with two Iowa State University researchers brainstorming after a professional meeting. Their “back of the napkin” discussion in 2010 led to development of saturated riparian buffers, a new conservation practice that is rapidly gaining interest in Iowa and far beyond.
Fifteen years of wetlands research by Iowa State University – a study thought to be the largest and longest running project of its kind in the country – clarifies their performance as highly beneficial systems for reducing nitrogen pollution.
A new trailer named “Marsh Madness” combines sight, sound and science to engage Iowa audiences about the values of the state’s wetland ecosystems. The artfully designed trailer features scenes of wetlands and their plant and animal communities and recorded sounds of wetland fauna. Adding to the immersive educational experience are three-dimensional interactive models demonstraing the unique landscape placement and hydrology of three wetland types typical in the state. The trailer was developed by Iowa Learning Farms team and the Iowa Nutrient Research Center.
Cover crops are known to protect soil and water quality, but they also can offer valuable livestock feed, according to Iowa State University research.
A new Researcher Directory being launched this week highlights Iowa scientists engaged in nutrient reduction research. The online search tool is hosted by the Iowa Nutrient Research Center, at https://www.cals.iastate.edu/inrc/researcher-directory.