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SOIL 2019: Searching for Solutions for Iowa's Water and Land

On November 4th, the Drake University Agricultural Law Center, in cooperation with other conservation organizations, will host the latest in the series of SOIL – “Sustaining Our Iowa Land” – conferences.  The focus of SOIL 2019 is searching for creative solutions and new ideas to protect Iowa’s water and land.  

SOIL 2019 is premised on searching for solutions and new approaches to protect our soil and water.  Attendees will have the opportunity to hear many of Iowa’s leading conservation thinkers and officials – the people leading efforts and research to develop the new approaches we need to explore.  If you share concerns about what Iowa is doing to protect our water and land please plan to attend SOIL 2019 on November 4th.  Registration is available online.  

Topics and Speakers:

Chris Jones and Larry Weber, from University of Iowa’s famous hydrology program will lead a session – “Do We Need 5 R’s?” describing how the information and experiences they have gained in monitoring Iowa’s water quality and developing the watershed management approach can be used to scale up improvement efforts.   They will be joined by Susan Judkins, president of the Watershed Management Authorities of Iowa.

Dr. Jerry Hatfield of the USDA National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment will lead a discussion “Soils: We Can Do Better” and describe how his research on the impact of climate variation and current crop production practices on soil health can be the basis for designing a new generation of federal soil conservation programs focused on issues facing today’s agriculture.  He will be joined by southwest Iowa farmer and cover crop leader Ray Gaesser and by Katie Rock, Polk County Soil and Water Conservation commissioner, who will discuss how soil health concerns can be better reflected in our water quality policy.

Matt Russell, executive director of Iowa Interfaith Power and Light will lead a panel discussion on the “Values of Farmer Led Climate Action: the moral call to stewardship AND real money!” He will be joined by Mollie Aronowitz, from People’s Company, who will illustrate how this is possible.

The luncheon panel will include several Iowa legislative leaders, including Sen. Ken Rozenboom, who chairs the Natural Resources and Environment Committee. They will be joined by Ray Gaesser and Joe McGovern who will moderate.

Dr. Peter Levi of Drake University and Hannah Inman from the Great Outdoors Foundation will discuss patterns in stream and river health around the Des Moines metro and how the Central Iowa Water Trails will address this important issue, using the $117 million project as a catalyst to spur local and statewide improvements in water quality.  They will be joined by Ted Corrigan, interim director of the Des Moines Water Works.

Joe McGovern and Anna Gray from the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation will describe how the INHF’s extensive work with conservation easements can serve as a basis for developing a “middle ground” of land ownership and management – one combining private land ownership and protection of important public attributes like water quality, recreation, and productivity.  They will be joined by Seth Watkins from Pinhook Farm who will describe his experience using conservation easements to help promote regenerative agriculture on his Southwest Iowa grazing operation.

John Norwood, Polk County Soil and Water Conservation District commissioner, will discuss ideas for a green infrastructure fund, and a three-pronged approach to use soil health and water quality needs to drive new forms of rural economic regeneration and agricultural reinvestment.  

Prof. Neil Hamilton of the Drake Law Ag Law Center, will end the day with a discussion of his “Missing Links” project to develop a real strategy for implementing the Nutrient Reduction Strategy, one addressing the politics of water quality, not just the science.  

Draft Agenda:  http://aglawcenter.wp.drake.edu/soil-2019-program/

Monday, November 4, 2019 at 8:00am to 5:15pm

Olmsted Center
2875 University Avenue Des Moines, IA 50311

Event Type



Undergraduate Students, Faculty & Staff, Alumni, General Public, Prospective Students, Law Students, Graduate Students







Law School
Contact Name

Neil Hamilton

Contact Email Address


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