ISU Prof's Conservation Work Honored

Iowa State Conservation Project Leader Recognized as MacArthur Genius Grant Recipient

Chris Clayton
By  Chris Clayton , DTN Ag Policy Editor
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Lisa Schulte Moore put together a project to intermix prairie grasses into row crops. That project has gotten her recognized as one of 25 MacArthur fellows this year. The fellowship comes with a $625,000 grant award. (Photo courtesy of the MacArthur Foundation)

OMAHA (DTN) -- An Iowa State University scientist whose work on sustainable agricultural techniques is one of 25 fellows named this year as MacArthur Foundation "genius" grant recipients.

Lisa Schulte Moore is a professor in the ISU Department of Natural Resources Ecology and Management. Her work focused on adding strips of native perennial grasses in corn and soybean crops to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus runoff. The prairie strips also help provide habitat for pollinators and improve water quality without significantly reducing crop productions.

Schulte Moore co-founded the Science-based Trials of Rowcrops Integrated with Prairie Strips (STRIPS) project (…), and she also is the lead developer of a web-based educational game to help people understand the impacts on the environment and improve management of natural resources.

With nitrogen and phosphorus runoff as one of the biggest challenges in Iowa agriculture, Schulte Moore's project helps tackle some of those nutrient problems. The prairie strips are now used in 14 states on more than 115,000 acres of crop land. The 2018 farm bill also included prairie strips as a conservation practice eligible for farmers to use under the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP).

MacArthur fellows are recognized by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Besides the recognition, recipients are awarded $625,000 in grant money to be used toward their work.

Schulte Moore's work was started with initial funding through a USDA grant program, the Agricultural Food Research Initiative.

"Dr. Schulte Moore's work provides many answers to the critical questions that farmers face today," said Margaret Zeigler, interim president of the Supporters of Agricultural Research (SoAR) Foundation. "And like so many established scientists today, funding grants from the USDA helped to launch her career."

In a news release from Iowa State University, Schulte Moore said: "I think of my work as putting together a puzzle, and I'm always looking for the missing puzzle piece. Where do I have to go or what do I have to learn to get the next piece? I've found that sometimes you have to build and paint the puzzle piece yourself, and that's part of the fun of science."

Wendy Wintersteen, president of Iowa State University, called Schulte Moore a "true land-grant champion" in her work to address some of society's urgent challenges.

MacArthur grants recognized an array of people this year, ranging from civil rights activists to historians, technology designers, filmmakers and other scientists.…

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Chris Clayton