Start Date: Apr 25, 2011
End Date: Apr 24, 2016
Biochemical analyses will be used to distinguish between labile and recalcitrant fractions of soil organic matter to improve the knowledge base regarding the effects of residue management on short-term soil processes (nutrient cycling, soil structure, and crust formation) and long-term carbon sequestration. This basic knowledge will then be applied to current production problems associated with providing sustainable supplies of bioenergy feedstock and enhancing grain yields to help meet ever-increasing food and feed demands. Utilizing corn, soybean, and small grain (i.e. rice, rye, and wheat) cropping systems, soil management practices to increase corn growth and grain yield will be evaluated in multiple field experiments. Various single-pass corn stover harvest and crop management strategies, cover crops, crop rotations, and tillage intensity will provide the crop production systems within which soil quality will be measured and the chemical nature and cycling of soil organic matter fractions will be quantified using seasonal analyses of amino acids, amino sugars, carbohydrates, phenols, and fatty acids. Effects of soil aeration on the decomposition of crop residues and the subsequent quality of soil organic matter, efficiency of nitrogen (N) cycling, and crop grain yield will be quantified in these experiments. The soil biochemical measurements coupled with soil physical process measurements will be used to augment the knowledge base related to soil quality assessment at plot scales for potential extension to field scale assessments. Project results will quantify the effects of crop residue management on soil physical and biochemical properties contributing to economic yields and long-term sustainability of major cereal cropping systems, leading to improved soil management practices.