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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Technologies for Managing Water and Sediment Movement in Agricultural Watersheds

Location: Watershed Physical Processes Research Unit

Title: Standardized research protocols enable transdisciplinary research of climate variation impacts in corn production systems

Authors
item Kladivko, Eileen -
item Helmers, Matthew -
item Abendroth, Lori -
item Herzmann, Daryl -
item Lal, Rattan -
item Castellano, Michael -
item Mueller, Daren -
item Sawyer, John -
item Anex, JR., Robert -
item Arrit, Raymond -
item Basso, Bruno -
item Bonta, James
item Bowling, Laura -
item Cruse, Richard -
item Fausey, Norman
item Frankenberger, Jane -
item Gassman, Philip -
item Gassmann, Aaron -
item Kling, Catherine -
item Kravchenko, Alexandra -
item Lauer, Joseph -
item Miguez, Fernando -
item Nafziger, Emerson -
item Nkongolo, Nsalambi -
item O’neal, Matthew -
item Owens, Lloyd
item Owens, Phillip -
item Scharf, Peter -
item Shipitalo, Martin
item Strock, Jeffrey -
item Villamil, Maria -

Submitted to: Journal of Soil and Water Conservation
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: May 5, 2014
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: The important questions about agriculture, climate, and sustainability have become increasingly complex and require a coordinated, multi-faceted approach for developing new knowledge and understanding. A multi-state, transdisciplinary project was begun in 2011 to study the potential for both mitigation and adaptation of corn-based cropping systems to climate variations. The team is measuring the baseline as well as change of the system's carbon, nitrogen, and water footprints, crop productivity, and pest pressure, in response to existing and novel production practices. Nine states and eleven institutions are participating in the project, necessitating a well thought out approach to coordinating field data collection procedures at 35 research sites. In addition, the collected data must be brought together in a way that can be stored and used by persons not originally involved in the data collection, necessitating robust procedures for linking metadata with the data and clearly delineated rules for use and publication of data from the overall project. In order to improve the ability to compare data across sites and begin to make inferences about soil and cropping system responses to climate across the region, detailed research protocols were developed to standardize the types of measurements taken and the specific details such as depth, time, method, numbers of samples, and minimum data set required from each site. This process required significant time, debate, and commitment of all the investigators involved with field data collection and was also informed by the data needed to run the simulation models and life cycle analyses. Although individual research teams are collecting additional measurements beyond those stated in the standardized protocols, the written protocols are used by the team for the base measurements to be compared across the region. A centralized database was constructed to meet the needs of current researchers on this project as well as for future use for data synthesis and modeling for agricultural, ecosystem, and climate sciences. The results will be useful as a guide for other large groups conducting comprehensive, collaborative research projects involving many state and Federal institutions and many seemingly unrelated scientific disciplines. The project focuses on how climate change may impact corn production systems of the Midwestern U.S, and how to build resiliency into U.S. agriculture under these changing conditions.

Technical Abstract: The important questions about agriculture, climate, and sustainability have become increasingly complex and require a coordinated, multi-faceted approach for developing new knowledge and understanding. A multi-state, transdisciplinary project was begun in 2011 to study the potential for both mitigation and adaptation of corn-based cropping systems to climate variations. The team is measuring the baseline as well as change of the system's carbon, nitrogen, and water footprints, crop productivity, and pest pressure, in response to existing and novel production practices. Nine states and eleven institutions are participating in the project, necessitating a well thought out approach to coordinating field data collection procedures at 35 research sites. In addition, the collected data must be brought together in a way that can be stored and used by persons not originally involved in the data collection, necessitating robust procedures for linking metadata with the data and clearly delineated rules for use and publication of data from the overall project. In order to improve the ability to compare data across sites and begin to make inferences about soil and cropping system responses to climate across the region, detailed research protocols were developed to standardize the types of measurements taken and the specific details such as depth, time, method, numbers of samples, and minimum data set required from each site. This process required significant time, debate, and commitment of all the investigators involved with field data collection and was also informed by the data needed to run the simulation models and life cycle analyses. Although individual research teams are collecting additional measurements beyond those stated in the standardized protocols, the written protocols are used by the team for the base measurements to be compared across the region. A centralized database was constructed to meet the needs of current researchers on this project as well as for future use for data synthesis and modeling for agricultural, ecosystem, and climate sciences.

Last Modified: 11/22/2014
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