Iowa State grad named to Agricultural Research Service Science Hall of Fame


Nick Fetty | September 11, 2014
Jerry L. Hatfield is the Director for the ARS National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment in Ames, Iowa. (USDA)
Jerry L. Hatfield is the Director for the ARS National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment in Ames, Iowa. (USDA)

Jerry L. Hatfield – the director of the ARS (Agricultural Research Service) National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment in Ames, Iowa – will be among four scientists inducted into the Agricultural Research Service Science Hall of Fame.

Hatfield earned a PhD in Agricultural Climatology and Statistics at Iowa State University in 1975. He also holds degrees from the University of Kentucky (M.S. ’72) as well as Kansas State University (B.S. ’71). He served as a biometeorologist on the faculty at the University of California-Davis from 1975 through 1983 then was with the USDA-Agricultural Research Service in Lubbock, Texas from 1983 through 1989. He has been at the National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment in Ames (formerly called the National Soil Tilth Laboratory) since 1989.

Dr. Hatfield’s main research has examined interactions among the components of the soil-plant-atmosphere continuum and its relation to air, water, and soil quality. Other research has focused on how farm practices affect water quality as well as the impact that climate change has had on agriculture. Recently he co-authored the book Climate Change in the Midwest: A Synthesis Report for the National Climate Assessment which was published last month.

Three other scientists join the 2014 Hall of Fame class including Perry B. Cregan, a researcher at the ARS Soybean Genomics and Improvement Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland; Hyun S. Lillehoj, a molecular biologist at the ARS Animal Biosciences and Biotechnology Laboratory also in Beltsville; and Ross M. Welch, a retired plant physiologist for the ARS Plant, Soil and Nutrition Research Unit in Ithaca, New York. To qualify for induction into the Hall of Fame, nominees must be retired or eligible to retire.

Purdue University study finds improved profitability, sustainability in cover crop technique


Nick Fetty | August 5, 2014
Shredded corn stover. (Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center/Flickr)
Shredded corn stover. (Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center/Flickr)

Farmers who use cover crops as a means of soil conservation can produce higher yields of corn stover which leads to increased profits, according to a recent study by researchers at Purdue University.

Cover crops such as crimson clover or annual ryegrass help to “blanket the soil” which allows farmers to sustainably yield an additional 1.8 tons of stover per acre compared to traditional methods, the research finds. This stover can then be used to produce biofuels among other uses. One study suggests that corn stover can “supply as much as 25 percent of the biofuel crop needed by 2030.” However, over-harvesting of corn stover has been known to strip the soil of important nutrients.

Cover crops not only help to produce biomass through corn stover but also have benefits for the soil including reduced erosion even in no-till soil, reduced nitrate leaching, increased soil organic matter, improved soil health, quality, and productivity, as well as fewer winter annual and early season weeds. These techniques can be beneficial for both corn-corn and corn-soybean crop rotations.

The study was a collaboration between researchers at the Purdue Extension as well as Praxic, an Ames, Iowa-based software company. To learn more about corn stover in Iowa, check out the 2013 Iowa Corn Sustainable Corn Stover Harvest guide.

Water quality loans in Iowa


Photo by Erin Tiesman; Flickr.
Photo by Erin Tiesman; Flickr.

Nearly 30 Iowa cities received $34 million in low-cost water quality loans through the State Revolving Fund at the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

The state hopes to aid cities in improving water quality while making it more affordable.

Some of the cities include Des Moines, North Liberty, Keokuk, and Ames.

To view the full list of cities receiving funding, head to The Des Moines Register.

Practical Farmers of Iowa Gather for Field Day


Photo by mlhauge; Flickr

In conjunction with the Scattergood Friends School, the Ames based Practical Farmers of Iowa  group hosted an education field day last week. Tomoko Ogawa, of Ames, a staff member with Practical Farmers of Iowa, said the goal of the nonprofit is to facilitate research among farmers.

Continue reading

Moving Planet hosts events across Iowa


Sept. 24 is a big day for Moving Planet and they are looking to get Iowans involved.

The organization, which advocates for a decrease in fossil fuel use, is hosting events all around Iowa this weekend in support of their cause.  Participants all across Iowa will be biking, walking, rollerblading and more in support of reducing emissions.

Check out these events taking place across Iowa: Continue reading

ISU grads don eco-friendly gowns


Photo via Flickr, minasodaboy

As part of Iowa State’s sustainability program, about 1,700 graduating Cyclones sported gowns made of recycled plastic today as they received their diplomas, reports the Des Moines Register.

Ames, Ia. – Iowa State University student Michael Goedert will be wearing the equivalent of about 23 plastic bottles when he receives his diploma today.

Goedert and nearly 1,700 other ISU graduates will be the first students here to don environmentally friendly gowns made from recycled plastic.

“I think it’s an awesome idea,” he said.

The gowns are part of a broader effort at ISU to use fewer resources. The university created a sustainability program last year called Live Green. It has spawned a recycling program in dormitories and significantly reduced the amount of cafeteria food thrown away….