Home 5 Ag Stories Iowa is Losing Billions of Dollars in Crop Yields Due to Erosion

Iowa is Losing Billions of Dollars in Crop Yields Due to Erosion

Soil Erosion
Severe soil erosion. Photo by Jack Dykinga.

Corn and Soybeans are Iowa’s number one crops but they have a downside, causing erosion.

An Iowa State agronomist says based on conservative estimates Iowa farmers are losing a billion dollars in crop loss due to erosion since we began farming.

Dr. Rick Cruse an Iowa State agronomist and director of the Iowa Water Center is part of the Iowa Daily Erosion project.

This project includes a team of scientists using remotely sensed rainfall and soil and crop management practices, a web-based soil database and modeling to calculate daily estimates of rainfall, runoff and soil erosion in sub-watersheds that are 15-62 square miles in size in Iowa.

Cruse says problems they found are based on erosion happening now and in the past but says it also affects water quality.

“Sediment by weight is the number one pollutant in Iowa waters and surface waters. It also is a major carrier of Phosphorus. Phosphorus and Nitrate are the two water quality critical elements or nutrients as we look to the water quality problems most prevalent now and soil erosion fuels that component as well,” Cruse said.

He also says if the goal is to keep soil in place, farmers have to plant something besides row crops.

“We need to put perennials in some places and the effect is some areas need them all of the time. I know farmers can’t grow perennials as a hobby because they have to make money but something has to be done to fix this erosion problem,” Cruse said.

Cruse adds they have enough data that tells us you cannot continue to grow continues row crops on this landscape and keep soil where it belongs.

He suggests cover crops, no-till, terraces, grassed waterways and any number of practices that contribute to soil conservation in row-cropping enterprises.