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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Resilient Cropping Systems for Food and Bioenergy

Location: Soil Management Research

Project Number: 5060-11610-001-10
Project Type: Trust

Start Date: Oct 01, 2013
End Date: Sep 30, 2015

Objective:
To quantify short-term and long-term effects of various soil and crop management practices for food and fuel production on soil health, nutrient cycling, and crop productivity. Specific objectives: 1. Sustain replicated field trials to quantify long-term soil health effects of these management practices by comparing soil organic C content, soil biology and soil physical parameters in corn/soybean fields after four cycles of stover harvest. 2. Compare crop yield and N cycling effects of management practices that integrate cover crops at this northern Corn Belt location. 3. Determine the impact of incorporating cover crops, oil-seed crops, and/or other perennials into current corn/soybean rotations on soil aggregation and erosivity. 4. Develop, populate and provide curatorship for prelease and public versions of ARS natural resource databases including REAPnet and GRACEnet, that are currently being populated by REAP and GRACEnet partners from multiple ARS locations.

Approach:
Established long-term field studies located on the Swan Lake Research Farm will be continued and maintained with four stover harvest management strategies – no removal, cob only removal, moderate removal (~ 1.5 to 1.8 tons/acre) and maximum feasible removal (~2.0 to 2.6 tons/acre) using single-pass harvest technology. Soil health indicators including near-surface soil organic carbon and aggregation measurements will be made in the fall of 2013. This will reflect effects of four full cycles of stover harvest. In addition, the impact of alternative crop management strategies (i.e., incorporation of perennials, cover crops and/or oil-seed crops) to improve soil heath will be assessed using near surface soil properties (erosivity and wet aggregate stability). The ability of using cover crops to improve N-cycling and reduce N-fertilize demand by subsequent corn crops in this northern latitude will also be assessed. The cover crop portion of this research has just been initiated and definitely needs to be continued for at least one more season (2014). Soil health impacts of oil-seed crops such as canola, camelina, calendula, and cuphea will be quantified as they are integrated into existing cropping systems. Greenhouse gas (GHG) flux data will be collected at a scientifically-valid intensity, proportional to the availability of human and fiscal resources to support this high-cost measurement. Finally, all data collected through this project will be added to the information being contributed by other ARS-REAP partners and integrated into the REAP (Resilient Economic Agricultural Practice) prerelease database. Following peer-review, the database will be released for public access and further evaluation.

Last Modified: 10/23/2014
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