Land Use Change and Policy in Iowa’s Loess Hills

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2015-08-01
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Hennessy, David
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Wolter, Peter
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Feng, Hongli
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Center for Agricultural and Rural Development

The Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) conducts innovative public policy and economic research on agricultural, environmental, and food issues. CARD uniquely combines academic excellence with engagement and anticipatory thinking to inform and benefit society.

CARD researchers develop and apply economic theory, quantitative methods, and interdisciplinary approaches to create relevant knowledge. Communication efforts target state and federal policymakers; the research community; agricultural, food, and environmental groups; individual decision-makers; and international audiences.

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We consider land use change in Iowa’s Loess Hills, which contain much of the state’s remaining prairie grassland. Although crop production has expanded on the landform since 2005, much of this expansion has been from soybean into corn with a clear trend toward more intensive corn rotations. Forest land has expanded in the area while we do not find evidence of extensive conversion to development. Data indicate that crop production has moved away from more heavily sloped land, but the increase in cropping does not appear to be occurring on land with high crop productivity.

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