ECOLOGICALLY-BASED SOIL AND CROP MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS FOR SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE
Location: North Central Agricultural Research Laboratory
Project Number: 5447-12620-002-00
Start Date: Apr 19, 2006
End Date: Apr 18, 2011
Research proposed in this project includes both basic and applied research evaluating the impact of agricultural practices (tillage, residue management, soil fertility, and crop rotation) on soil productivity and crop yield and quality. Specific objectives include: 1) Measure the effects of tillage, residue management, fertility, and crop rotation on physical, chemical, and biological properties of soils in agricultural crop production systems. 2) Develop crop rotation, nutrient, soil, residue, and pest management practices that improve farming efficiency (increase unit output/unit input), maintain or increase soil productivity, and improve crop yield and quality. 3) Measure the effects of corn stover/residue removed for biofuel feedstock on: (1) short-term balances of soil C and N; (2) crop yield and quality; and (3) soil resource condition.
Established long-term field experiments evaluating the effect of crop rotation, residue management, fertility and tillage will be utilized to evaluate the research hypothesis that crop rotations, crop diversity, and crop sequence improves soil quality and productivity and that increased crop diversity, attained through the introduction of alternative crops and improved crop sequences into the traditional corn/soybean rotation, will improve crop yield and quality while maintaining or improving soil quality. To address the hypothesis that no significant effect of genetic modification of corn genotype on soil microbes (DNA compositional measures) and their processes (e.g., C&N transformations) will be detectable, a field experiment will be established evaluating several different corn isolines with and with out genetically modified organisms. To evaluate the hypothesis that cover crops and integrated weed management strategies will increase biodiversity and enhance sustainable crop production, research will be conducted in two phases. Phase 1 will consist of a small-plot field experiment in which different species of grasses and legumes will be evaluated as cover crops in a corn/soybean/spring wheat rotation. The viability of cover crops as a management tool for weeds and insects relative to chemically-driven pest management will be investigated in Phase 2 of the research. Field and greenhouse experiments will be established evaluating a number of different soybean genotypes to test the hypothesis that soybean genotypes with significantly more root length and mass in the top 10 cm of soil (extensive fibrous root system) will have a more positive impact on soil organic matter, aggregate stability, and soil strength than other soybean genotypes.