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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Tifton, Georgia » Southeast Watershed Research » Research » Research Project #421727

Research Project: Soil Processes in Production Systems that Incorporate Biofuel Feedstocks into Southeastern Agriculture

Location: Southeast Watershed Research

Project Number: 6048-11130-003-00-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Jul 29, 2011
End Date: Jun 13, 2016

1. Determine the effects of legume cover crops and soil amendments (e.g., poultry litter and flue gas desulfurization gypsum) on nutrient cycling and other soil processes in cropping systems. 1.1. Quantify the impact of gypsum application on infiltration, runoff, bulk density, soil loss, and soil-water partitioning within the rooting zone on a Tifton soil in a sweet sorghum-peanut-cotton rotation. 1.2. Quantify the impact of gypsum on rooting depth and estimated plant available water in a Tifton soil in a sweet sorghum-peanut-cotton rotation. 1.3. Determine the effect of gypsum on above and below-ground winter cover crop biomass production and associated effects on soil carbon sequestration, summer crop biomass, yield index, and nitrogen use efficiency. 2. Characterize the effects of cropping system, soil management and residue removal rate on soil carbon, specifically how changes in soil carbon storage impact nitrogen use, soil water storage and crop water use, and soil erosion and carbon loss associated with extreme rainfall events. 3. Determine the effects of cropping system, soil management and residue removal rate on the levels and seasonality of trace gas (CO2, CH4, and N2O) emissions. 4. Assess the dissipation, fate, and transport of herbicides and fungicides in soil as a function of soil management and residue removal rate. 4.1. Evaluate pesticide soil persistence including metabolite accumulation and decay as influenced by soil properties, tillage, agronomic amendments, pesticide formulation, and pesticide mode and frequency of application. 4.2. Determine edge-of-field pesticide and degradates loads at the field scale as a function of crop type, gypsum application, and pesticide properties during cotton-sweet sorghum-peanut production with strip- and no-till management.

This project will evaluate soil processes in cropping systems that incorporate biomass crops into traditional annual row crop rotations and that facilitate the conversion of idle and marginal agricultural lands to perennial biomass production systems. Goals will be accomplished through provision of: improved data (C&N accretion and cycling rates, water availability and quality effects, evapotranspiration estimates, yield potential and yield indices) for crop production and watershed model calibration; site-specific C and N cycling and trace gas data for the ARS GRACENet database and the Southern Multistate Research Committee’s project S1048; soil quality and hydraulic data that will aid in the development of conservation practice targeting recommendations for sensitive landscape positions within farms and improve hillslope, small watershed, and riparian model parameterizations for Little River Experimental Watershed (LREW); improved understanding of the relationships between crop water use efficiency, soil characteristics (texture, bulk density, carbon content, soil-water holding capacities), and crop biomass production that will facilitate validation of soil water estimation by satellite; and improved information on the effects of conservation practice, future land use, and environmental change scenarios for the southeastern coastal plain region to integrated National Program Assessments’ “what-if” analyses. Emphasis is placed on studies that: 1) define benefits of combining gypsum with conservation-tillage in row crop production systems; 2) use leguminous cover crops to improve the net energy balance of production systems that include biofuels feedstocks; 3) develop guidelines for appropriate nutrient (poultry manure and inorganic fertilizer nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) and water amendment rates for perennial grass feedstock production systems; and 4) determine how agronomic and soil management practices impact the fate and soil persistence of herbicides used for control of glyphosate resistant weeds rapidly spreading through Southeastern landscapes.