Skip to main content
ARS Home » Southeast Area » Auburn, Alabama » Soil Dynamics Research » Research » Research Project #435668

Research Project: Conservation Systems to Improve Production Efficiency, Reduce Risk, and Promote Sustainability

Location: Soil Dynamics Research

Project Number: 6010-12610-007-00-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Oct 15, 2018
End Date: Oct 14, 2023

Objective:
1. Determine weed suppression, soil coverage, and agronomic and economic benefits for monoculture and mixed species high-residue cover crops in conservation tillage for diverse crop production systems of the southeastern U.S. 1a. Evaluate monoculture and mixtures of cereal, legume, and selected Brassica cover crop species on weed dynamics in corn, cotton, peanut, and soybean. 1b. Evaluate and develop integrated weed control systems to diminish herbicide resistant and troublesome weed yield loss in cotton. 1c. Evaluate cover crop management across single species and mixtures to compare soil health benefits, while improving biomass production. 2. Integrate new equipment, high residue cover crops, and conservation tillage into cropping systems that foster sustainability and resiliency, increase efficiency, and reduce risk by promoting soil health and yield stability. 2a. Evaluate effects of different planting factors in a no tillage cotton system with a rye cover crop. 2b. Develop a no tillage equipment system compatible with a modular tractor for vegetable production. 2c. Determine the effects of cereal rye seeding rates and timing of termination methods on soybean production in a no tillage conservation system. 2d. Determine cash crop performance across high residue conservation tillage systems and different agronomic management factors. 3. Increase environmental sustainability of pasture and forage-based beef production systems. Research can include, but is not limited to, incorporating broiler litter into pasture-based grazing systems; cropping systems with beef cattle production through grazing cover crops utilized in soil conservation programs; production of forages adapted to local growing conditions and resilient to a changing southern climate to improve production efficiency and environmental benefits; and lowering fertilizer and energy inputs and associated production costs to maximize profitability.

Approach:
Research objectives are designed to develop conservation systems that will improve soil quality, conserve natural resources, and increase production efficiency, increase environmental sustainability of pasture and forage-based beef production systems, while reducing risk for producers. These objectives will be accomplished by examining cover crop benefits (agronomic and economic) for single species and mixtures across diverse cropping systems of the southeast. In addition, we will also examine how integrating cover crops with management strategies designed to maximize benefits for cropping systems will promote soil health and productivity. Major areas of focus include: (1) examining weed germination across single species cover crops and mixtures for popular row crops grown across the southeast; (2) integration of cover crop mixtures into herbicide resistant weed control strategies; (3) comparisons of cover crop management strategies across single species cover crops and mixtures to identify how to maximize benefits; (4) evaluation of cover crop seeding rates, termination timing, and cash crop planting speeds on cash crop productivity; (5) development of equipment for a modular tractor suitable for vegetable production; (6) evaluation of cash crop performance across high residue cover crop systems; and (7) identifying tillage and seeding rate guidelines for a carinata biofuel crop. In addition, the research will focus on incorporating broiler litter into pasture-based grazing systems; cropping systems with beef cattle production through grazing cover crops utilized in soil conservation programs; production of forages adapted to local growing conditions and resilient to a changing southern climate to improve production efficiency and environmental benefits; and lowering fertilizer and energy inputs and associated production costs to maximize profitability.