Submitted to: Agricultural Experiment Station Publication
Publication Type: Experiment Station
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/18/2008
Publication Date: 12/12/2008
Citation: Schulte, L.A., Asbjornsen, H., Atwell, R., Hart, C., Helmers, M., Isenhart, T., Kolka, R., Liebman, M., O'Neal, J., Secchi, S., Schultz, R., Thompson, J., Tomer, M.D., Tyndall, J. 2008. A Targeted Conservation Approach for Improving Environmental Quality: Multiple Benefits and Expanded Opportunities. Agricultural Experiment Station Publication. Iowa State University Extension Publication. Ames, IA. PMR-1002. p. 24.
Technical Abstract: We all benefit from maintaining the quality of our water supplies, the productivity of our soils, and the quality of our outdoors for recreation. In areas of the country where agriculture is a key industry, sustaining these resources requires that we maintain healthy working landscapes and vibrant agroecosystems. While recent changes in the agricultural economy are leading farm producers to intensify production, it is vital that we maintain environmental quality while responding to these changes. The targeting of conservation practices is needed to meet this challenge. Targeting means that conservation practices are carefully designed and placed to enhance the benefits from multiple resources. To be most effective, conservation systems should include some diversity of perennial cover and perennial species. Perennial species can diversify the types of crops we harvest, including bioenergy crops, and provide environmental benefits in the form of improved air and water quality, improved soil quality and carbon sequestration, more productive wildlife habitat, and increased opportunities for pollination of crops and biological control of crop pests. By providing specific examples in each of these areas, this publication underscores that effective conservation systems are a critical component of our agricultural landscapes, from viewpoints of both agricultural and environmental advocates.