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ARS Home » Plains Area » Lincoln, Nebraska » Agroecosystem Management Research » Research » Research Project #421437


Location: Agroecosystem Management Research

Project Number: 3042-11210-001-00-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: May 31, 2011
End Date: May 30, 2016

Objective 1: Develop management strategies to optimize input use, e.g. water, nutrients, in cropping systems for grain and feedstock production. a. Compare production and water and nutrient budgets for annual grain and feedstock systems to those for perennial feedstock systems. b. Develop amelioration practices for cropping systems affected by residue removal. Objective 2: Identify and quantify ecosystem services in grain and feedstock production systems. a. Quantify carbon sequestration in annual grain and feedstock systems and perennial feedstock systems. b. Quantify leaching in irrigated and rainfed cropping systems. c. Quantify greenhouse gas emission from annual and perennial cropping systems. d. Compare diversity and activity of soil microorganisms among management systems. Objective 3: Develop management guidelines and protocols for managing spatially variable fields. a. Determine management zones for efficient use of inputs. b. Develop precision management tools to optimize input use efficiency. c. Utilize process models to manage spatially variable fields.

Increasing concerns about rising atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHG) have emphasized the critical need for soil and crop management strategies that can mitigate GHG impacts while meeting societal demands for products (i.e. food, fiber, and fuel) and societal expectations of water and air quality. Soil and crop management strategies can optimize the capacity of agricultural soils to store carbon (C) while minimizing emissions of N-based GHGs by optimizing nitrogen (N) fertilizer applications across spatially variable landscapes. This project will (1) determine how crop and residue management affects soil functions (i.e. soil fertility, C storage and soil organic matter dynamics, GHG fluxes, and role of soil microbial communities on these functions), and (2) develop approaches to delineate spatially variable fields for more efficient application of water and fertilizer inputs. Crop residues are currently being harvested to co-feed with distillers grain in livestock operations and have been identified as available sources of cellulosic biomass for biofuel production. This project plan will determine the impact that corn stover removal has on soil function and develop recommendations for determining the amount of stover that can be diverted to other uses without impairing soil function. Results will be shared with producers, consultants, extension educators, state and federal regulatory agency personnel, and other scientists. Products resulting from this project plan will contribute to improved soil and crop management that will maintain or improve the sustainability of agroecosystem soil function.