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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Increasing Soybean Productivity While Improving Soil Quality and Mitigating Climate Change

Location: Soil Drainage Research

2012 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
This research develops sustainable farming systems that will enhance (i) soil quality, (ii) soybean yield and yield stability under environmental and biotic stresses, and (iii) environmental quality and sustainability; and that will accommodate expected climate variability.


1b.Approach (from AD-416):
We propose to conduct studies in several locations in the U.S. to (i) develop best management practices that include no-till, cover crops, crop rotations, gypsum, and reduced levels of mineral fertilizers; (ii) characterize their effectiveness in improving soil and crop productivity, and carbon sequestration and in reducing green house gases and pollutant load to the environment; (iii) analyze the cost and benefits of the system that includes the increased yield, reduced input, and enhanced environmental quality and sustainability; and (iv) develop education and outreach program for sharing knowledge and understanding of climate change to youth and adults that results in adaptation of management technology and practices that increase soybean productivity while maintain environmental sustainability.


3.Progress Report:

Activities conducted for this Reimbursable Agreement contribute directly to Sub-Objective 2a of the parent project: Evaluate no-till, soil amendment, and cover crop practices as compared to conventional management practices for improving crop yield and soil/water quality in intermittently wet soils. Strategy 1. Field research: In Ohio, Indiana and Alabama, gypsum was applied in early spring to all plots at the rate of 0, 1000, and 2000 lbs/acre. In the no-till plots, cereal rye or oats cover crops were rolled over using crimper rollers and soybean and corn were successfully planted to establish the rotation. The conventional tillage plots were plowed accordingly before planting. Soil samples collected before gypsum application are being analyzed for physical, chemical, and microbial properties to establish the base line. PVC chambers for measuring greenhouse gas emissions were assembled and installed in the high rate gypsum and no gypsum plots in Alabama, Indiana, and Ohio. Gas sampling measurements for carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O) were taken and will continue every other week until harvest. Soil moisture and temperature are also taken at the time of gas sampling. All management information such as tillage, planting date, herbicide application, etc. is being recorded in a logbook specific for economic analysis. Greenhouse research: A greenhouse experiment was conducted at Ohio Agriculture Research and Development Center-Ohio State University to evaluate the effect of gypsum (0 and 3,000 lb/a) and flooding on the growth of two soybean varieties (Wooster and Wyandot) in pots containing two soil types (sandy and clay). The most obvious results are the flooded pots with gypsum had much less algae growth than the flooded pots without gypsum. The results suggested that the gypsum made phosphorus less available for algae growth and improved water quality relative to the no gypsum treatment. Thus gypsum treatment has the potential to improve both crop production and environmental quality. Strategy 2. At the three sites with demonstration plots, corn and soybeans were planted and successfully established. Plans are set for the four farm shows at Ag Progress Days in Pennsylvania (Aug. 14-16), Farm Progress Show in Iowa (Aug. 28-30), and Farm Science Review in Ohio (Sept. 18-20). At Husker Harvest Days in Nebraska (Sept. 11-13) it was not possible to have demonstration plots, so we will have a space with the Nebraska Soybean Council where our materials will be available. A 4-page handout about the project, emphasizing the sustainability of no-till, cover crops, and using flue gas desulfurization (FGD) gypsum as a soil amendment is being printed for use at the farm show demo sites.


Last Modified: 9/29/2014
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