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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Trans-Disciplianry Soil Physics Research Critical to Synthesis and Modeling of Agricultural Systems

Authors
item Ahuja, Lajpat
item Ma, Liwang
item Timlin, Dennis

Submitted to: Soil Science Society of America Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: June 29, 2005
Publication Date: March 1, 2006
Repository URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10113/4138
Citation: Ahuja, L.R., Ma, L., Timlin, D.J. 2006. Trans-disciplianry soil physics research critical to synthesis and modeling of agricultural systems. Soil Science Society of America Journal.70:311-326.2006.

Interpretive Summary: The purpose of this review paper is two fold. The first is to convey that the synthesis and quantification of disciplinary knowledge at the whole system level, via the process models of agricultural systems, are critical to achieving improved and dynamic management and production systems that address the environmental concerns and global issues of the 21st century. The second is to propose that the soil physicists are uniquely capable of making the much-needed and exciting contributions in this area. Most of these exciting research opportunities lie on the interfacial boundaries of soil physics and other disciplines, especially in quantifying interactions among soil physical processes, plant and atmospheric processes, and agricultural management practices. Some important knowledge-gap and cutting-edge areas of such research are: (1) quantification and modeling the effects of various management practices (e.g., tillage, no-tillage, crop residues, and rooting patterns) on soil properties and soil-plant-atmosphere processes; (2) the dynamics of soil structure, especially soil cracks and their effects on surface runoff of water and mass, and preferential water and chemical transport to groundwater (3) bio-physics of changes in properties and processes at the soil-plant and plant-atmosphere interfaces; and (4) physical (cause-effect) quantification of spatial variability of soil properties and their outcomes, new methods of parameterizing a variable field for field scale modeling, and new innovative methods of aggregating output results from plots to fields to larger scales. The current status of the various aspects of these research areas is reviewed briefly. The future challenges are identified that will require both experimental research and development of new concepts, theories, and models.

Technical Abstract: The purpose of this review paper is two fold. The first is to convey that the synthesis and quantification of disciplinary knowledge at the whole system level, via the process models of agricultural systems, are critical to achieving improved and dynamic management and production systems that address the environmental concerns and global issues of the 21st century. The second is to propose that the soil physicists are uniquely capable of making the much-needed and exciting contributions in this area. Most of these exciting research opportunities lie on the interfacial boundaries of soil physics and other disciplines, especially in quantifying interactions among soil physical processes, plant and atmospheric processes, and agricultural management practices. Some important knowledge-gap and cutting-edge areas of such research are: (1) quantification and modeling the effects of various management practices (e.g., tillage, no-tillage, crop residues, and rooting patterns) on soil properties and soil-plant-atmosphere processes; (2) the dynamics of soil structure, especially soil cracks and their effects on surface runoff of water and mass, and preferential water and chemical transport to groundwater (3) bio-physics of changes in properties and processes at the soil-plant and plant-atmosphere interfaces; and (4) physical (cause-effect) quantification of spatial variability of soil properties and their outcomes, new methods of parameterizing a variable field for field scale modeling, and new innovative methods of aggregating output results from plots to fields to larger scales. The current status of the various aspects of these research areas is reviewed briefly. The future challenges are identified that will require both experimental research and development of new concepts, theories, and models.

Last Modified: 7/28/2014
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