Des Moines, Iowa - A study by Iowa State University researchers shows that heavy rains in recent years eroded away the state's soil at much higher rates than what is considered sustainable by the government.

Iowa State researchers analyzed data from nearly 18,000 samples across the state between 2002 and 2010 to compare how erosion rates varied from statewide averages reported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The study reported Wednesday in The Des Moines Register shows that in parts of Iowa, soil as eroded by as much as 12 times the rate the government considers sustainable.

The findings raise concerns among scientists and environmentalists about Iowa's ability to maintain and increase production of corn and other crops as demand rises.