2006 Annual Report
1.What major problem or issue is being resolved and how are you resolving it (summarize project aims and objectives)? How serious is the problem? Why does it matter?
Many current soil and crop management decisions are not sustainable as evidenced by erosion, decreased soil organic matter content, contamination of surface and ground water resources, compaction, and/or acidification. This project, as part of National Program 202 (Soil Resource Management) is designed around three objectives that focus on (1) evaluating and improving two assessment tools, the soil conditioning index (SCI) and the soil management assessment framework (SMAF), (2) developing improved nutrient, tillage, carbon, and crop management practices that will enhance productivity without negative off-site consequences, and (3) evaluating existing and new conservation practices at the field and watershed scale. Use, evaluation, and further improvement of the SMAF as a tool to assess the soil quality effects of soil management practices provides a common thread throughout the entire project. Studies at multiple scales will provide information that can "contribute to the efficiency of agricultural production systems" (Strategic Plan Objective 1.2) and "provide science-based knowledge and education to improve quality and management of soil, air, and water resources" (Strategic Plan Objective 5.2). Our primary customers include the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Department of Energy (DOE), conventional and organic producers, fertilizer industry, and scientific community. The project also provides information for three cross-location projects identified in the 202 Action Plan, one Cross-Location Education and Research (CLEAR) project, the inter-Agency Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP).
2.List by year the currently approved milestones (indicators of research progress)
Objective 1: Assess and monitor the effectiveness of past, present, and future soil resource management practices using the SMAF.
1. Identify sampling sites for CEAP watersheds and plot design for residue removal (Biofuels) projects
2. Establish common database for soil quality analysis
3. Collect baseline soil data and run SMAF version 1.0
4. Identify indicators to be added and/or scoring curves to be refined with the best potential for improving the SMAF
5. Compile literature on plan- available water for soils with shallow water tables
6. Develop project plan to better estimate the amount of plant available water for use in the SMAF
7. Collect additional soil and plant samples
8. Run SMAF v 1.0 on soil data
9. Determine the SCI for CEAP and biofuels sites
10. Collect soil samples from Biofuels, CEAP and restored prairie sites and analyze them for current and recommended new SMAF indicators
11. Assess soil moisture sensors for accuracy and repeatability
12. Prepare preliminary scoring functions, for improving the SMAF
13. Collect additional soil and plant samples
14. Development of scoring curves for the new indicators and improvements for existing curves
15. Develop protocol for interfacing soil water information among researchers within the NP202 action plan
16. Sample baseline plots and CEAP sites to determine temporal change in SCI and SMAF
17. Resample selected biofuels, CEAP, and prairie restoration sites for temporal SMAF analysis
18. Monitor soil water and water table depth; use routines to determine upward and lateral water flow; modify scoring functions for SMAF
19. Summarize soil property, SCI, and SMAF results
20. Complete analyses of soil samples and insert new indicators into Excel version of the SMAF
21. Use database to combine information on plant-available water from other NP202 action plan sites; further refine scoring functions
Objective 2: Develop innovative, ecologically-based crop and soil nutrient management practices for enhanced productivity and negligible off-site agricultural impacts.
22. Summarize data from a 3-yr field study evaluating liquid and dry banding of potassium (K)
23. Establiish second set of fall phosphorus (P) fertilizer application plots (plots initiated during fall 2005); complete bioavailable P measurements
24. Identify organic crop rotations, complete plot design, and collect baseline soil data at Agronomy Ag Engineering Research Center (AAERC) site
25. Collect baseline soil samples from long-term tillage research site and complete analysis for SMAF indicators
26. Implement new experimental plan to determine effects of crop residue on soil quality indicators at two research sites
27. Establish fall P fertilizer application plots (third year); complete bioavailable P measurements
28. Establish sulfur (S) fertilizer plots; measure bioavailable S with resin membranes
29. Establish organic rotations at AAERC site; collect and summarize 1st-yr postharvest soil and crop data
30. Measure crop residue removal and crop yield response
31. Summarize data from a 3-yr field study evaluating P bioavailability following fall application of liquid P
32. Establish S fertilizer plots (second year); measure bioavailable S
33. Collect and summarize 2nd-yr postharvest soil data and agronomic/crop data
34. Measure crop residue removal and crop yield response
35. Establish S fertilizer plots (third year); measure bioavailable S
36. Assessment of changes in soil properties during 3rd year of transition to organic production; certify site as organic
37. Measure crop residue removal and crop yield response
38. Collect and analyze soil samples
39. Summarize data from a 3-yr field study evaluating liquid and dry banding of S
40. Summarize soil and agronomic data for organic transition period
41. Summarize and interpret soil and crop residue data
Objective 3: Conduct field-scale evaluations of selected conservation practices to support the Conservation Effects Assessment Program (CEAP) and quantify landscape effects on soil water and nutrient availability.
42. Identify sampling sites for survey and paired comparisons of soil quality in response to conservation practices in the Southfork CEAP watershed
43. Collect baseline soil data
44. Design sampling strategy for South Fork watersheds; contact landowners and identify sampling sites
45. Complete first soil structure evaluation on samples taken at the Deep Loess Research Station near Treynor, IA
46. Initial soil quality assessment samples analyzed and data ready for analysis with SMAF v 1.0
47. Establish and georeference sampling locations and collect data for terrain analysis; collect soil, agronomic, and hydrologic data yr 1
48. Locate urban sites for soil management comparisons and evaluate effects on water availability and soil structure
49. Collect additional soil samples from targeted locations within the watershed
50. Collect soil, agronomic, and hydrologic data yr 2
51. Collect and evaluate data from cropland and urban soil management sites
52. Complete statistical analyses and SMAF runs
53. Summarize 2-yrs of data and perform statistical analysis
54. Collect and evaluate data from cropland and urban soil management sites
55. Evaluate initial soil quality assessments and determine if re-sampling is needed
56. Prepare manuscript
57. Complete evaluation and interpretation of cropland and urban data
4a.List the single most significant research accomplishment during FY 2006.
4b.List other significant research accomplishment(s), if any.
4c.List significant activities that support special target populations.
A new organic research site was established at the Iowa State University (ISU) Agronomy and Agricultural Engineering Research (AAER) farm near Ames, IA. This will provide a research site to evaluate soil and water quality impacts of organic production practices when fully implemented.
5.Describe the major accomplishments to date and their predicted or actual impact.
Transition plans from the former Project (12000-011) to this one have been developed and are being implemented. The web-based version of the Soil Management Assessment Framework (SMAF) is expected to be available to the public by autumn 2006. This tool will be used to help evaluate sustainability of biomass removal for ethanol production and to evaluate effects of various conservation practices for the CEAP.
6.What science and/or technologies have been transferred and to whom? When is the science and/or technology likely to become available to the end-user (industry, farmer, other scientists)? What are the constraints, if known, to the adoption and durability of the technology products?
A preliminary report evaluating four corn stover harvest scenarios for the engineering, nutrient removal and biomass feedstock quality has been prepared for the Idaho National Energy Laboratory (INEL) and is currently in review for publication in Biomass and Bioenergy.
7.List your most important publications in the popular press and presentations to organizations and articles written about your work. (NOTE: List your peer reviewed publications below).
Karlen, D.L., S.S. Andrews, T.M. Zobeck, and B.J. Wienhold. Soil Quality Assessment: A Potential Policy Tool to Move beyond T. Proc. 18th World Congress of Soil Science. (available on CD-ROM) 2006.
Logsdon, S.D. Plant-Available Water Modified by Landscape. Proc. 18th World Congress of Soil Science. July 10-14, 2006, Philadelphia, PA. (available on CD-ROM) 2006.
Kovar, J.L. Differences in Plant Growth and Phosphorus Uptake among Three Riparian Grass Species. Proc. 18th World Congress of Soil Science. July 10-14, 2006, Philadelphia, PA. (available on CD-ROM) 2006