Land Use Change and Policy in Iowa’s Loess Hills

Gaurav Arora, Peter T. Wolter, David A. Hennessy, Hongli Feng
August 2015  [15-WP 558]

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Suggested citation:

Arora, G., P. Wolter, D.A. Hennessy, and H. Feng. 2015. "Land Use Change and Policy in Iowa’s Loess Hills." Working paper 15-WP 558. Center for Agricultural and Rural Development, Iowa State University.


We consider land use change in Iowa’s Loess Hills, which contain much of the state’s remaining prairie grassland. Although crop production has expanded on the landform since 2005, much of this expansion has been from soybean into corn with a clear trend toward more intensive corn rotations. Forest land has expanded in the area while we do not find evidence of extensive conversion to development. Data indicate that crop production has moved away from more heavily sloped land, but the increase in cropping does not appear to be occurring on land with high crop productivity.

Keywords: Agro-environmental policy, erodibility, hill terrain, monoculture, land quality.