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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: Soil Management Research

2010 Annual Report

1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
1. Determine how crop, biomass and soil management practices alter the rate at which carbon and nitrogen are stored in soil or released as greenhouse gas emissions to develop economically viable practices that enhance storage and minimize emissions particularly in the cool, wet, glacial-till soils in the north Central United States. 2. Evaluate impacts of global environmental changes on traditional, biofuel and alternative crops.

1b.Approach (from AD-416)
Carbon cycling will be conducted as part of a national monitoring effort (GRACEnet). Soil physical, chemical and biological factors, and crop inputs will be monitored over time. Established long-term field experiments will be continued to assess impact of tillage method on carbon storage, trace gas emission and economic yield. The active, transitional and passive pools will be assessed in the tillage treatments to determine the rate and direction of change in the various pools. On-farm research is comparing the impact of high manure application on gas exchange monitored by eddy covariance and monitoring the nutrient content of tile water samples. Economic analysis will be conducted to evaluate the economic returns for the different residue removal/tillage combinations. Field experiments will be conducted to obtain plant parameters from a range of species and management systems. The plant data will be integrated with the soil carbon data to statistically model dynamics of C inputs and subsequent changes in carbon pools. Plant information will be collected from growth chamber and/or greenhouse experiments utilizing controlled conditions to mimic desired environmental stresses.

3.Progress Report
This is the final report for project 3645-11000-003-00D, “Soil Carbon Cycling, Trace Gas Emission, Tillage and Crop Residue Management”, which terminated in March 2010. It was replaced with the new ARS project 3645-11610-001-00D, "Advancing Sustainable and Resilient Cropping Systems for the Short Growing Seasons and Cold, Wet Soils of the Upper Midwest." On-going components of the project were integrated into the new in-house project.

This research project had two general objectives, first to ascertain how agricultural management impacts greenhouse gas emission (N2O, CH4 and CO2) and carbon storage; and second, to measure how global climate change may impact agricultural crops. The overall goal was to develop agricultural management systems that can readily adapt to climate change and to mitigate greenhouse gas accumulations. To achieve these objectives multiple experiments were conducted to compare agricultural management practices and crops.

Significant progress was made during the duration of this project toward developing agricultural management systems that can readily adapt to climate change and to mitigate greenhouse gas accumulations. Comparison of multi-year greenhouse gas emission, above-ground yield and root production among multiple management scenarios was completed; the emission data was presented at a national meeting and the manuscripts published. On-going greenhouse gas emission data related to bioenergy production systems will continue under the new project. Data from multiple crops over several years were collected and analyzed. These data were used to develop crop coefficients and it is being collated with this year’s data for statistical analyses and to prepare a manuscript. Genotypic differences and genetic potential in switchgrass for photosynthetic acclimation to temperature fluctuations and avoidance of carbohydrate feedback inhibition of productivity were presented at a professional meeting and a subsequent manuscript is in-press.

1. Crop yield and greenhouse gas responses to stover harvest. Renewable energy sources such as corn stover are needed that lower the amount of fossil carbon released as carbon dioxide. A study was conducted to determine what happens to corn and soybean yield, and measure greenhouse gas emission when corn stover is harvested at different rates. ARS researchers at Morris, Minnesota, reported that two cycles of corn stover harvest did not reduce corn or soybean yield or alter CO2 or N2O emission. This information is important to scientists trying to understand relationships between stover harvest and soil processes including greenhouse gas emission. This information is also useful for the bioenergy industry seeking renewable energy sources that reduce greenhouse gas emission.

2. Nutrient densities, carbon:nitrogen ratios, and midday differential canopy temperature impact grain yield of stressed oat. The interaction of stresses caused by barley yellow dwarf virus with climatic conditions (moisture and temperature regimes) on grain yield (Mg ha-1) and its components (kernels m-1 and kernel weight) of oat was not understood. Collaborating ARS researchers at Morris, Minnesota, and Brookings, South Dakota, found complex direct and indirect interactions of biotic (disease) and abiotic (unfavorable moisture or temperature) stresses and their impact on grain yield and its components in oat. This information is of value to crop physiologists in designing experiments to decipher the impact of biotic and abiotic components of climate change on potential crop yield.

3. Using nonfood bioenergy crops can reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions. Non-grain yield and feedstock quality need to be improved. This can be done by improving plant genetic traits and changing how the crops are grown. An ARS researcher at Morris, Minnesota, reviewed the literature regarding ways to increase non-grain yield and quality of bioenergy crops. He noted the value of using a modeling tool called life cycle analysis. This tool can integrate multiple positive and negative environmental and economic impacts of using bioenergy energy crops. Information generated by life cycle analysis will benefit geneticists, agronomists, entrepreneurs, and farmers by ensuring that future bioenergy crops have a positive and sustainable impact on global climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts.

Review Publications
Jaradat, A.A., Johnson, J.M., Weyers, S.L., Barbour, N.W. 2009. Determinants and Prediction of Carbon/Nitrogen Ratio in Five Diverse Crop Plants. Communications in Soil Science and Plant Analysis. 40:2688-2711.

Johnson, J.M., Archer, D.W., Barbour, N.W. 2010. Greenhouse Gas Emission from Contrasting Management Scenarios in the Northern Corn Belt. Soil Science Society of America Journal. 74(2):396-406.

Spokas, K.A., Koskinen, W.C., Baker, J.M., Reicosky, D.C. 2009. Impacts of Woodchip Biochar Additions on Soil Carbon Net, CH4 Oxidation and Sorption/Degradation of Two Herbicides in a Minnesota Soil. Chemosphere. 77(4):571-581.

Jaradat, A.A., Riedell, W.E. 2010. Nutrient Densities, Carbon:Nitrogen Ratios, and Midday Differential Canopy Temperature Impact Grain Yield of Stressed Oat. Journal of Plant Nutrition. 33(10):1531-1554.

Jaradat, A.A. 2010. Genetic Resources of Energy Crops: Biological Systems to Combat Climate Change. Australian Journal of Crop Science. 4(5):309-323.

Jaradat, A.A. 2009. Modeling Biomass Allocation and Grain Yield in Bread and Durum Wheat under Abiotic Stress. Australian Journal of Crop Science. 3(5):237-248.

Last Modified: 4/20/2014
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