Saturated Buffers Improving Iowa Water Quality

AMES, Iowa – Using science-based research, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach specialists are working to improve the quality of water throughout the state of Iowa. The use of saturated buffers in watersheds has proven to be a successful nitrate management practice.

ISU Extension and Outreach has been forging partnerships with private land-owners in Iowa watersheds to establish saturated buffers. These buffers reduce the movement of sediment, phosphorus and nitrogen into surface water while redirecting water into the root zone of the buffer.

Click on the infographic below to enlarge…


Corn Project Findings

Corn plants at tasseling_webResearchers with the Climate and Corn-based Cropping Systems Coordinated Agricultural Project (commonly known as the Sustainable Corn Project) have documented 130 findings, some of which will be explored during a Feb. 11 webinar, open to the public through Iowa State University

The five-year USDA-National Institute of Food and Agriculture research project is nearing completion, led by Lois Wright Morton, a professor of sociology at Iowa State University. In 2011, Morton convened 140 researchers from 10 land-grant universities in the Corn Belt and USDA Agricultural Research Service, to begin a study of farmers’ perceptions and farm management practices.

The practices had the potential to provide resilience in times of drought, reduce soil and nutrient losses under saturated soil conditions, decrease field nitrogen losses, retain carbon in the soil and ensure crop and soil productivity. The researchers collected measurements at 35 field sites with diverse landscapes and soils, and from surveys of thousands of Midwestern farmers, entering all the data into one database for the team’s use. Continue reading

State Nutrient Reduction Strategy: Information Midwestern Farmers Can Use

Dick Sloan, an Iowa farmer in Buchanan County, recently wrote to his local newspaper to bring attention to the portion of Iowa’s Nutrient Reduction Strategy that provides tables that assist farmers in making nutrient management decisions. Table 2, for example, on page 6 of the strategy shows the potential impact of certain practices, like cover crops, on reducing nitrate loss and on corn yield based on literature review.  Farmers can see which practices have been shown to be most effective. His article can be found at  The document to which he refers – Iowa’s nutrient reduction strategy – can be found online at

Speed Science

Want to learn a lot about crops, climate, culture, and change, all in a short period of time?  Check out the Speed Science Resources available on our website.  They include both factsheets and short videos and are approved for use in educational, research, and extension settings.  Factsheet topics vary from the nitrogen cycle, to cover crops, to drainage water management.  The videos cover climate change, soil core sampling, modeling and analysis of soil, and many other topics.  Here’s an example of a video.  Check it out and tell us what you think!