2011 Annual Report
1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
Develop and evaluate food, feed, and bioenergy cropping systems resilient to increasing climatic variability through the application of site-specific soil and crop management. Develop biological assays and soil sensors that are capable of describing soil quality variations between diverse management systems and across landscapes.
1b.Approach (from AD-416)
In this project, our interdisciplinary team will address key knowledge and technology gaps limiting the development of landscape-based site-specific management systems. We will develop methods that use the spatial soil and yield data collected with precision farming technologies to determine where on the landscape to best place alternative crops, such as perennial bioenergy crops. We will also conduct field research to evaluate the production, profitability, and environmental ramifications of bioenergy crops. To better understand soil quality impacts of different management systems, we will develop systems incorporating biological assays and electronic sensor technology that can be deployed for field measurements. We will evaluate site-specific management systems that increase nitrogen use efficiency and that incorporate landscape targeting of conservation measures for improved resilience to climatic variability. Management system evaluations will include on-farm research with active participation by crop producers and crop advisors. Products of this research will include soil quality indicators, sensors for measurement of multiple soil properties, and agricultural and conservation practices specifically designed to deal with landscape variability.
This report documents progress for Project Number 3622-12610-002-00D, which started in June 2011 and continues research from Project Number 3622-12610-001-00D, entitled “Systems and Technologies for Sustainable Site-Specific Soil and Crop Management.” During FY11 progress has begun on all objectives of the new project. Models describing corn and soybean grain yield and yield risk have been developed and compared to a Natural Resources Conservation Service productivity index. Application of these models to the entire claypan soil region has begun. Establishment of all grass and woody bioenergy systems on Centralia cropping systems plots is complete, allowing productivity and environmental data collection to begin in FY12. Preparatory work for sensor-controlled variable-rate nitrogen studies has begun, including equipment modification, field preparation, and limited preliminary data collection. Soil quality analyses of samples collected from the Centralia cropping systems plots in fall 2010 are completed or currently underway. This data, combined with other baseline soil properties, will characterize the effects of up to 20 years of different management on soil quality and will provide baseline data prior to initiation of biofuel production systems in this new project.