IMPROVING CROP AND ANIMAL PRODUCTION SYSTEMS FOR SOUTHERN PRODUCERS
Location: Athens, Georgia
Project Number: 6612-61660-002-00
Start Date: Oct 01, 2008
End Date: Jan 12, 2012
Objective 1: Develop and document crop and animal production practices that improve productivity and benefit natural resources by improving soil and water management and nutrient cycling.
• Sub-objective 1.A. Develop improved irrigation management strategies for corn-based conservation tillage systems in the Coastal Plain using increased quantities of crop residues to maximize efficient use of water in corn production.
• Sub-objective 1.B. Determine how forage, animal, and crop production systems in the Piedmont can be managed to reduce water transport of nitrogen and phosphorus at the field and landscape scales, and improve system-wide nutrient use efficiency.
Objective 2: Quantify key system components of mixed cropped and grazed systems that can be optimized to improve whole-farm economic and natural resource sustainability in the Southern Piedmont. The focus is to take advantage of synergies that exist from using cattle for cover crop management within a conservation cotton production system.
Objective 3: Identify most appropriate methods for delivering new information and technologies to promote adoption by customers and stakeholders of National Program (NP) 216 research products, and develop customer-based impact indicators and metrics to determine outcomes from use of new information and technology.
• Sub-objective 3.A. Determine customer knowledge and recognition of accomplishments, products and benefits resulting from NP216 research.
• Sub-objective 3.B Identify customer perceptions of effectiveness of technology transfer efforts addressing their identified problems.
• Sub-objective 3.C. Determine the level of application and adoption of products resulting from research.
• Sub-objective 3.D. Identify customer preferences for updates on accomplishments, products and benefits of research and distribute this information to projects to aid in developing effective technology transfer vehicles.
• Sub-objective 3.E. Quantify the economic, environmental and social impacts and benefits following application and adoption of products developed by research.
NOTE: Objective 3 is a national effort directed and funded by the ARS National Program Staff and Office of Technology Transfer. Scientists at the Watkinsville location have been tasked to lead the coordination of this project and document the effort in this plan.
Hypothesis 1.A – High-residue conservation tillage systems save water in Coastal Plain corn production while maintaining or improving productivity. Soil, plant and remotely sensed data are quantified in irrigated corn-cotton-peanut rotations at Camilla and Tifton, GA with U of GA scientists to evaluate variable tillage, residue, and irrigation regimes. Ground based and remotely sensed data provide instantaneous and non-destructive spatial measures of crop response. Treatments are: conventional tillage (CT) no cover crop and strip-till (ST) with rye, and irrigation treatments: (1) no-irrigation; (2) full irrigation, maintaining soil water tension above 30 mb; (3) irrigation beginning at V10; and (4) irrigation beginning at V14.
Hypothesis 1.B –Pasture management strategies designed to maintain nutrients (N and P) in the rooting zone and/or remove nutrients through harvested products will increase profitability and decrease N and P losses to streams in Piedmont systems. Systems are evaluated on-farm using eight Piedmont stream-side fields. Historical baseline data (1999 – 2003) from unimproved hayfields and pastures are compared to data following establishment of improved management (2005 to 2008): no-till pearl millet/with rye grazed, alfalfa hay, bermudagrass/ryegrass–hay, and over-seeded pasture–grazed in winter. Soil chemical (C, N, and P) and physical properties, water quality data (N & P) upstream, downstream, and surface runoff, are combined with agronomic costs to estimate environmental impact.
Hypothesis 2 – Grazing winter cover crops in a conservation system will impact cotton production and economic return, and negatively affect soil properties influencing water quality and water and nutrient availability. the winter rye cover crop is grazed in the spring and compared to fields that are not grazed. Cotton is planted in May and spatially delineated areas are sampled for biomass, plant height, and nutrient status at first bloom and mid-bloom to determine grazing and landscape effects. Soil water availability is measured using TDR. A picker equipped with yield monitor and GPS is used for harvest. Cotton for fiber analysis is collected from zones in each field. Water conservation and water quality are evaluated from runoff and water use.
Objective 3: National Program Staff and Office of Technology Transfer are supporting this NP216 effort to develop tools for customer-based assessment of effectiveness of technology transfer. Scientists from Watkinsville, Auburn, and Mandan working with K.S.U. Jayaratne, Extension Program Evaluator, NCSU, will design and conduct the following studies:
1. Baseline determination of current awareness of NP216 research and technology transfer by customers. Identify preferred technology delivery methods and barriers and challenges in transferring technology to end users. 2. Annual evaluations at 2, 3, and 4 years to facilitate improvements in technology transfer. 3. Comprehensive end of cycle (5 yrs) evaluation to assess economic, environmental, or social impact of new technologies generated and disseminated in NP216.