Soil and water conservation has long been recognized as a critical need for Iowa, the country, and the world. Two of the most important soil and water conservation ‘tools’ are terraces and grass waterways.Continue reading
The crops of Iowa yielded 100’s of trillion of calories in 2012. Those calories are feeding 100’s of millions of chickens, pigs, cattle and other livestock. They also help fuel millions of vehicles.Continue reading
We all should care! Without life in the soil, there is no life above soil. Yes, the soil is composed of many, many living, breathing organisms.Continue reading
Soil is defined as media that supports plant growth and plant development. A soil consists of solids and spaces between the solids (voids). The solids include inorganic and organic materials. Inorganic materials include minerals such as quartz, feldspars, and mica.Continue reading
Ames, Iowa – The Iowa Water Center (IWC) annually administers a statewide grant competition known as the IWC Graduate Student Research Competition.
The purpose of this funding is to help graduate students to complete additional research objectives beyond the scope of their current work, with an emphasis on submitting their research to peer-reviewed publications.
Meyer Bohn is one the recipients, along with three other graduate students across Iowa. Each recipient will receive funding for various different research studies.
Bohn’s research focuses on mitigating soil and water degradation.
There are several programs for predictive agroecosystem modeling that are used to target solutions for soil and water quality issues in Iowa, but these models can be sensitive to soil input data. Soil maps that are available now use outdated information and lack the spatial resolution necessary for precision agroecosystem modeling. That is where Bohn comes in.
Bohn, along with his research advisor, Dr. Bradly Miller, have presented the idea of making soil maps through Digital Soil Mapping (DSM). The duo currently has a DSM project running in Story and Boone Counties, and are looking to widen their research to a “quad-county” study, including the counties: Osceola, Clay, Emmet and Dickinson.
There are two main purposes of this study. First, to create an updated soil map that can accurately target soil properties and spatial resolution. Second, to test the spatial models’ transferability used to construct the digital soil maps for their soil variation prediction capability in the greater Des Moines Lobe area.
Get to know Meyer Bohn, a PhD student at Iowa State University.
Bohn is originally from North Dakota and chose to attend Iowa State University for not only the unparalleled agriculture work and research performed there, but also because of his advisor, Dr. Bradley Miller. Dr. Miller is an assistant professor in the Department of Agronomy at Iowa State University and is considered by many as one of the leading digital soil mapping researchers in the field.
Bohn also explained the benefit of living in Iowa as a soil scientist with an emphasis in digital soil mapping.
“Iowa is a particularly important place for improving soil map accuracy and precision. Our understanding of how soil properties vary in space has crucial implications for agricultural production and water quality. Iowa’s agricultural wealth and prosperity stems directly from the state’s rich abundance of inherently fertile prairie soils. This great wealth coincides with a critical responsibility, finding the balance between intensive agricultural production while sustaining soil and water quality.”
With the knowledge Bohn holds on the current state of soil maps, he knew that his research plans could make a significant improvement to the foundation of water and soil research throughout Iowa. This led him to apply for the IWC Graduate Student Research Competition.
Bohn shared that his favorite part of the research process is field work.
“I get to travel across the state sampling soils with a hydraulic probe mounted on the back of a pick-up truck,” said Bohn. “I get to see soils in ways that a textbook or journal article could never articulate, and I’ve met some incredible people along the way. The farmers of Iowa are some of the most genuine and charitable people I’ve ever met.”
Bohn also mentioned that he likes to focus on the cartography part of his research process. Cartography is the work of drawing out maps. Bohn shared that mastering the art of cartography was necessary to accurately communicate his research results. Although reaching the final product he is satisfied with can be challenging, it is very rewarding.
When Bohn isn’t in the field researching soils or perfecting maps, he enjoys being in the outdoors, such as camping, fishing, hunting and hiking. He also plays the guitar, and shared that if he ended up not being a soil scientist, he would have probably become a country music singer. On behalf of Iowa’s soil and water quality, we are so glad he chose the career that he did.
I was glad for the opportunity the Soil and Water Conservation Club offered me to write about the conditions in Texas this year, and their connection to soil and water conservation. I will provide some background information first, then I will share some current statistics, followed by implications on regional soil and water conservation issues.Continue reading
There is a continual dialog about the food required to feed a population of nine billion people by 2050 and the changing climate and the impacts on food production and food security.Continue reading
With rising commodity prices and increasing recognition of land as a stable investment, agricultural land values have experienced unprecedented increases as evidenced by Iowa recently documenting a $20,000 per acre agricultural land sale. Rising land values and high commodity prices have many implications ranging from limiting opportunities for beginning farmers to devaluing the implementation of conservation practices; potential income losses associated with either real or perceived reduced commodity production drive the conservation practice devaluation. In selected situations, conversations suggest practices are removed simply for operator convenience. From a myopic economic perspective conservation is a cost to the producer or land owner and not an investment in the property.Continue reading
Midwestern row-crop agriculture is recognized as being highly productive, but is also cited for impairing surrounding ecosystems and impacting environmental quality. Water quality is a key metric utilized to characterize the health of an agricultural watershed. Therefore, it is important to know how new or alternative management practices impact water quality. With this in mind, the Kansas Agricultural Watershed (KAW) Field Laboratory was created in 2014 to study the effects of agricultural systems on water, sediment and nutrient losses. The goal of the KAW field lab is to evaluate and develop sustainable conservation practices that protect water quality, maintain yield and profitability and provide producers with flexible options for management of crops and nutrients.Continue reading
We ask Brian Gelder, Scientist II and Adjunct Assistant Professor at Iowa State University, the question: How do you use map data to estimate soil erosion?Continue reading