Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: SOIL AND GAS FLUX RESPONSE TO IMPROVED MANAGEMENT IN COLD, SEMIARID AGROECOSYSTEMS

Location: Northern Great Plains Research Laboratory

Title: The Area IV Soil Conservation Districts Cooperative Research Farm: Thirty years of collaborative research to improve cropping system sustainability in the Northern Plains

Authors
item Liebig, Mark
item Archer, David
item Hendrickson, John
item Nichols, Kristine
item Sanderson, Matt
item Tanaka, Don -
item Merrill, Steve -
item Harner, Leann -
item Olsen, Duane -

Submitted to: Journal of Soil and Water Conservation
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: June 3, 2014
Publication Date: July 7, 2014
Citation: Liebig, M.A., Archer, D.W., Hendrickson, J.R., Nichols, K.A., Sanderson, M.A., Tanaka, D., Merrill, S., Harner, L., Olsen, D. 2014. The Area IV Soil Conservation Districts Cooperative Research Farm: Thirty years of collaborative research to improve cropping system sustainability in the Northern Plains. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation. 69(4):99A-103A.

Interpretive Summary: Long-term cropping system studies are a critically important component of US research infrastructure. Such studies serve to elucidate agronomic, environmental, and economic outcomes associated with implemented treatments through the measurement of key metrics consistently over time, and accordingly, guide the development of productive and resilient cropping systems. In this article, we describe the history and influence of one long-term cropping systems research site located in the heart of the northern Great Plains. Since its inception, the Area IV Soil Conservation Districts (SCD) Cooperative Research Farm near Mandan, ND USA has served as a focal point for improving the sustainability of dryland cropping systems through team-focused, systems-oriented research and technology transfer. Future challenges associated with increasing food, fuel, and fiber production during unprecedented climate change suggest long-term cropping system sites throughout the US will have even greater importance to national food security. Given the convergence of past investment and future opportunity, the Area IV SCD Cooperative Research Farm should serve to guide the evolution of dryland cropping systems in the northern Plains by continuing to provide practical, science-based information and decision support tools.

Technical Abstract: Findings and interpretations generated from long-term cropping system studies serve to inform the status and trajectory of ecosystem services, while concurrently providing opportunities for further inquiry related to basic/fundamental research. Recent calls for increased investment in long-term cropping systems research have been prompted by the need to develop productive and resilient agroecosystems in response to multiple challenges associated with producing more food, fuel, and fiber during unprecedented climate change. In this article, we describe the history and influence of one long-term cropping systems research site located in the heart of the northern Great Plains. Since its inception, the Area IV Soil Conservation Districts (SCD) Cooperative Research Farm near Mandan, ND USA has served as a focal point for improving the sustainability of dryland cropping systems through team-focused, systems-oriented research and technology transfer. Over its 30 year history, the Area IV Research Farm has fostered an evolution of cropland conservation in the northern Plains through effective research and outreach. Major research themes addressed during the farm's history include applying conservation tillage and crop residue management to reduce soil erosion, developing improved management recommendations for wheat production, improving precipitation-use efficiency of dryland cropping systems, developing resilient and adaptable crop rotations, and quantifying ecosystem services. Research findings have been translated into usable information for agricultural clientele through outreach activities (e.g., annual conferences and field tours) and decision support tools (e.g., Crop Sequence Calculator, Cover Crop Chart). Future challenges related to meeting future demand of food, fuel, and fiber while protecting environmental quality and sustaining rural communities will require a systems-level understanding of linkages between biophysical processes and human activity across multiple spatial and temporal scales. In that regard, the Area IV Research Farm is poised to provide practical solutions to these forthcoming challenges through continued long-term, multi-disciplinary research aimed at fostering the development of more sustainable dryland cropping systems for the northern Plains.

Last Modified: 10/1/2014
Footer Content Back to Top of Page