Project Number: 5012-12220-009-02
Start Date: Apr 01, 2011
End Date: Mar 31, 2016
To address our hypothesis, we will: 1) characterize microbial communities in -turnover and soil-building zones, using state-of-the-art molecular techniques, 2) assess key soil functional properties, including C cycling and storage, N- and water-use efficiency, and 3) quantify soil attributes that are functionally important to the resilience of high yield under variable climates, including water storage and infiltration, soil aggregation, organic matter dynamics, and pathogen suppression. We will utilize field-based, experiments in precision zonal-management cereal systems that use cover crops and carefully targeted tillage (e.g., ridge-till/cover-crop maize production systems). We will study both newly-initiated zonal systems, and more mature systems, over a range of soil and climatic conditions. We will integrate our findings in a decision tool to enable predictions of the functioning of precision zonal management systems under variable climates and plant/tillage/microbial interactions. To extend our detailed benchmark studies on research and ‘elite’ farms, we will further evaluate and refine zonal management via collaboration with farmers who are experimenting with transition to zonal management systems.