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The Science of Improving Iowa’s Water Quality

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Posted on April 26th, 2021

Recently someone in my peer group publicly stated that “I counsel students if they conduct research for an academic institution (to) avoid advocacy related to their professional focus. Your research will become biased or perceived as such and you lose credibility.” Now this statement, mind you, comes from a person who some might say has […]


Posted on March 28th, 2021

Note: this post was written by Professor Silvia Secchi. Some of the farmer data presented here may seem to be slightly different from my (CJ) last post. Neither of us is wrong; rather, it relates to a distinction USDA makes between “primary” and “principal” producer.  There was a recent New Yorker article that really irritated […]

Environmental Injustice

Posted on March 22nd, 2021

Using 2017 data (1), USDA has identified 86,104 people as the “primary producer” (e.g., farmer) on Iowa farms. Of these folks, 378 (0.4%) identified as of Hispanic origin, 45 (<0.1%) as Native American, 64 (<0.1%) as Asian, 40 (<0.1%) as African American, 6 (<0.1%) as Pacific Islander, and 85,827 (99.7%) as white. Of these white […]

Big Pollution

Posted on March 7th, 2021

It’s always been in the best interests of the ag industry to make nutrient pollution seem mysteriously complex. After all, complex problems rarely lend themselves well to simple solutions. Complex problems require lots and lots of time and money to solve, and the bigger the problem, the more likely the taxpayer is going to be […]

Manure Matters: IA 2020 Nitrate Summary

Posted on March 1st, 2021

Preface: I hit the wrong button and accidentally posted this for about 5 minutes before I was done, and realizing my mistake, took it down. What you see here is the final product. You may have noticed the mistake. Witold Krajewski once told me aging is something that is impossible to understand until it actually happens […]

This might hurt some feelings

Posted on December 23rd, 2020

“To be radical is to simply grasp the root of the problem. And the root is us.” Howard Zinn, 1999. There’s a page on my website where I post the powerpoint slides from presentations I conduct. I took a look at that page this morning, and over the last five years I have conducted 69 […]

Defending Paris

Posted on December 16th, 2020

The humble Iowa City Goosetown neighborhood is the location of my even humbler house, a three-room castle (three rooms, not three bedrooms) that can be seen in the background of the 1941 Grant Wood painting, Spring in Town. Wood taught painting at the University of Iowa from 1934-1941 before dying young in Iowa City of […]

No Country for Old Men

Posted on December 4th, 2020

I packed up my 20-year-old pickup and 35-year-old camper last week and took a virus-inspired trip to Arkansas. Iowa campgrounds have been closed for some time now, and those in Missouri closed October 31. Looking further south, I found that Arkansas state park campgrounds are open year-round and I picked Crowley’s Ridge State Park because […]


Posted on October 22nd, 2020

A few months ago, I wrote an essay that discussed the abandonment of empiricism and the contempt some of our elected leaders apparently have for science and scientists. A couple of recent items motivated me to write about this again. The first was hearing one of the presidential candidates mocking his opponent with the line […]

Dream On

Posted on October 14th, 2020

E. coli (Escherichia coli) belong to a group of bacteria sourced to the intestinal tract of vertebrates, including human beings. Much of the mass contained within a stool is the living and dead bodies of these bacteria, and billions upon billions of them are necessary to orchestrate one movement. There are many strains of E. […]