Below you'll find research supporting farms and farmers' role in public health, and how these regenerative farming systems can not only positively impact farm profitability, but also soil health, water quality, flood and drought resilience, air quality, and a host of other downstream effects.
|Kathleen D., Cynthia C., and Dan B. J.||Organic and diverse cropping systems outperformed conventional Corn/Soy rotations in these three-year water quality studies; conventional systems lost nearly twice the leached nearly twice the N than organic systems. "Results of this study suggest that organic farming practices, such as the application of composted animal manure and the use of forage legumes and green manures within extended cropping rotations, can improve water quality in Midwestern subsurface-drained landscapes."||Download|
|Kathleen D., Cynthia C., Craig C., and Robert T.||Iowa results can be found on page 6: "Over 13 years, LTAR organic corn and soybean yields were equivalent or greater than conventional counterparts. Unlike many studies where organic yields suffer during the transition phase, the first LTAR transitioning-to-organic phase demonstrated corn yields in the organic system that were 92% of conventional corn yields while organic soybean yields were 99.6% of conventional soybean yield...Economic returns mirrored those previously reported at other sites, with the organic rotations garnering, on average, twice the returns of the conventional rotation, and lower costs than conventional crops during transition."||Download|
|Natalie D. Hunt, Jason D. Hill & Matt Liebman||Data from 2008−2015 showed that use of the low-herbicide regime reduced freshwater toxicity loads by 81−96%, and that use of the more diverse rotations reduced toxicity and system dependence on herbicides by 25−51%. Mean weed biomass in corn and soybean was <25 kg ha−1 in all rotation × herbicide combinations except the low-herbicide 3-year rotation, which contained ∼110 kg ha−1 of weed biomass. Corn and soybean yields and net returns were as high or higher for the 3- and 4-year rotations managed with the low-herbicide regime as for the conventional-herbicide 2-year rotation.||Download|
|Matt Liebman||Diversified, low external input (LEI) cropping systems offer a possible approach for maintaining adequate productivity and profitability while reducing use of agrichemicals and fossil energy. Over the study period (2003 to 2011), mineral N fertilizer use was 80% and 86% lower in the three-year and fouryear LEI systems, respectively, than in the two-year conventional system. Similarly, herbicide use was reduced by 86% and 89%, respectively, in the three-year and four-year LEI systems. Fossil energy inputs were on average 49% lower in the LEI systems than in the conventional system. Corn yields were on average 4% higher and soybean yields were 9% higher in the LEI systems as compared with the conventional system, and matched or exceeded average yields on commercial farms in Boone County.||Download|
|Practical Farmers of Iowa||Many farmers have known this for years, but recent university research shows that adding a third crop – a small grains crop such as oats – to the more common 2-year corn-soybean crop rotation would support soil and water conservation, making Iowa's rural communities more resilient.||Download|
|D. Lee Miller, Marlene B. Schwartz, Kelly D. Brownell||
Initially included in a series of articles on food, nutrition, and policy in the American Journal of Public Health, this article concisely connects the relationship between nutrition, agriculture, policy, and the important role of public health practitioners have in highlighting these connections, 'Encouraging more diversified agriculture means moving beyond the paradigm of planting vast monocultures and relying on industrial animal feeding operations for meat production. Public and planetary health require a move toward resource conserving crop rotations, reintegrating animals back into crop systems, and widely adopting agroeocological and regenerative practices....Considering the interdependence of agriculture and nutrition, the public health community cannot remain passive on questions of agricultural policy.
|Claire E. LaCanne & Jonathan G. Lundgren||Soil organic matter was found to be a more important driver of farm profitability than yields. Furthermore, pests were 10-fold more abundant in insecticide treated corn fields than on insecticide-free regenerative regenerative farm systems.||Download|
|Lisa A. Schulte, Jarad Niemi, Matthew J. Helmers, Matt Liebman, J. Gordon Arbuckle, David E. James, Randall K. Kolka et al.||
Findings indicated peplacing 10% of cropland with prairie strips increased biodiversity and ecosystem services with minimal impacts on crop production. Compared with catchments containing only crops, integrating prairie strips into cropland led to greater catchment-level insect taxa richness (2.6-fold), pollinator abundance (3.5-fold), native bird species richness (2.1-fold), and abundance of bird species of greatest conservation need (2.1-fold). Use of prairie strips also reduced total water runoff from catchments by 37%, resulting in retention of 20 times more soil and 4.3 times more phosphorus.
|Kathleen Delate, Cynthia Cambardella, Craig Chase, Ann Johanns & Robert Turnbull||The study shows that in the second LTAR phase (2002 to 2010), equivalent organic and conventional corn (Zea mays) and soybean (Glycine max) yields were achieved in the organic corn-soybean-oat (Avena sativa)/alfalfa (Medicago sativa) (C–S–O/A) and corn-soybean-oat/alfalfa-alfalfa (C–S–O/A–A) rotations compared to the conventional corn-soybean rotation (C–S). Organic oat and alfalfa yields, at 103 bu/acre and 4.4 tons/acre, respectively, exceeded county averages of 73 bu/acre and 3.3. tons/acre, for the same period. In Fall 2009, soil organic carbon, total nitrogen, and extractable K and Ca were 5.7%, 9.5%, 14.2%, and 10.8% higher in organic soils, respectively||Download|
After 30 years of side-by-side research in our Farming Systems Trial (FST)®, Rodale Institute has demonstrated that organic farming is better equipped to feed us now and well into the ever changing future.
|Iowa State University||
Higher diversity and lower inputs create more resilient farms for Iowa.