Guest column in The Des Moines Register • June 18, 2008
BILL LEONARD of Des Moines is a former Register editorial writer.
Eroded soil sends message: Step up conservation
A huge hunk of Iowa is washing away with the Flood of '08 - a disaster whose magnitude dwarfs the visible impact.Soil scientists consider a soil loss of five tons per acre per year to be acceptable on most tillable soils. That's a small fraction of an inch off the top of the field. But this month, some Iowa farms lost more than that in a single day. That's the nutrient-rich topsoil that makes Iowa the nation's agricultural powerhouse - and that helps create a "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico, where chemicals washed from Midwestern farms choke the oxygen supply needed by aquatic life.
It could have been prevented, or at least mitigated to a major degree. Read more...