topography

Climate change and soil erosion feed into one another in an environmental feedback loop that can have big consequences for Iowa land, but an Iowa State University agronomist is developing new models to illuminate these complex interactions.

Developing these new computer models of soil erosion and topography changes requires both innovative big-data technology as well as painstaking validation of soil measurements in the real world, said Bradley Miller, an ISU assistant professor of agronomy. Miller recently received support from the National Science Foundation to continue his research to develop updated soil maps of Iowa as well as erosion models capable of predicting how environmental conditions will influence Iowa’s soil in the future.

Ask any farmer and they will explain the importance of soil. While seasonal weather can be the difference from a good harvest and a worrisome one, the soil moderates the long-term productivity of that harvest. The inherent properties of soil types are vital to know when it comes to management practices on any agricultural landscape.

“We rely on soil for so many different things, the list can be overwhelming at times,” said Bradley Miller, assistant professor of agronomy at Iowa State University. “You think about why the state of Iowa has the agricultural economy that it does, and that is largely because of the soil it has.”

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