SUSTAINABLE AGRO-ECOSYSTEMS THAT CONTROL SOIL EROSION AND ENHANCE THE ENVIRONMENT
Location: Wind Erosion and Water Conservation Research
Project Number: 6208-12000-010-00
Start Date: Jun 28, 2011
End Date: Oct 12, 2015
The long-term objective of this project is to develop environmentally viable practices, guidelines, and cropping systems that farmers and land managers can apply to control water and wind erosion, enhance soil quality and sustain productivity. Specifically, over the next three years we will focus on the following two objectives.
Objective 1: Determine temporal variations of soil characteristics in native grasslands, Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) lands, and croplands, and contribute to multi-location ARS GRACEnet project.
Subobjective 1A: Characterize physical, chemical, and biological properties of soils as affected by alternative management and land uses for cotton production.
Subobjective 1B: Integrate physical, chemical, and biological properties for adaptation of the Precision Agricultural Landscape Modelling System (PALMS) model.
Objective 2: Quantify the effects and interactions of wind and water erosion on agricultural landscapes, including physical, chemical, and biological properties of eroded sediments.
Subobjective 2A: Quantify wind and water erosion on eroding landscapes, and characterize physical, chemical, and biological properties of the eroded sediments.
Subobjective 2B: Develop improved methods and instrumentation for assessing erosion rates and processes, and quantify abrasion damage and recovery of cotton seedlings from wind-blown sand.
Information will be provided on how soil quality and functioning are affected under alternative management, which includes conversion of continuous cotton to the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), perennial pastures with warm-season grasses for livestock cotton production systems or cotton rotations with other crops. Management impacts will be evaluated based on several soil quality and functional attributes such as soil water infiltration, aggregate stability, carbon sequestration, soil microbial community structure and diversity, and enzymes involved in nutrient cycling. C sequestration assessments will contribute to the ARS GRACEnet (Greenhouse Gas Reduction through Agricultural Carbon Enhancement network) project. This project will also quantify interactions of wind and water erosion on agricultural landscapes and will determine physical, chemical, and biological properties of eroded sediments. Enzyme activities, microbial community composition, and chemical characteristics of fine particle dust from agricultural soils will be used to identify the sources and origin of dust. The time fractions equivalent method for determining the threshold condition for soil movement in the field under natural wind and soil conditions will be evaluated and further refined. Morphological traits that promote resistance to injury caused by abrasion of plants by sand particles during wind storms will be identified and the most resistant varieties of selected common crops will be determined for enhancing crop productivity in this region.