Professor Richard Cruse speaks on Iowa’s topsoil

Richard Cruse is an Agronomy professor at Iowa State University. His research focuses on soil and crop management. One of his most recent projects involved leading a research team that created a system to more realistically estimate the amount of soil erosion occurring in Iowa. Cruse talked with Iowa Environmental Focus about this project, and about the importance of preserving Iowa’s topsoil.

Why Iowa needs its topsoil:

Topsoil is a basis for our economy, the basis for international trade and the basis for food production worldwide. The science related to soil erosion is that when soil erosion proceeds, soil’s productivity potential drops. That occurs in Iowa, and it occurs basically anywhere in the world. Continue reading

On the Radio: Protecting Iowa’s Soil

Photo by Irum Shahid.

Listen to this this week’s radio segment on Iowa’s eroding soil. Also, check out the Iowa Daily Erosion Project, and read about some exciting upcoming research on erosion.

Iowa has some of the world’s most fertile soil, but each year much of it washes away.

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.

Since the turn of the twentieth century, Iowa has lost about 9 of its 16 inches of topsoil. And the problem is getting worse. Consider these statistics:

Each year, Iowa loses about five tons of soil per acre. In 2008, about 10 percent of our cropland experienced severe erosion damage, according to Iowa State Professors Natalia Rogovska and Richard Cruse.

Some areas lost more than 50 tons of soil per acre.

Why is this happening?

For answers, look to our shifting climate.

More extreme weather – including heavy rainfall – speeds up erosion, and our soil washes and blows away. As these trends continue, the problem will likely get worse.

But there are ways to protect Iowa’s soil – like by planting perennial cover crops, terracing land or reducing stream bank erosion.

To learn more, visit

I’m Jerry Schnoor, from the UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research.

Thank you.