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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Management Strategies to Sustainably Intensify Northern Great Plains Agroecosystems

Location: Natural Resource Management Research

Project Number: 3064-21660-003-00-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Oct 1, 2013
End Date: Sep 30, 2018

OBJECTIVE 1. Develop and evaluate management strategies for sustainable use of agricultural production, including integrated crop - livestock systems. Expansion: Identify management practices that confer resilience to external stressors. • Sub-objective 1.1 Sustainably intensify dryland agricultural production systems by including cover crops. • Sub-objective 1.2 Sustainably intensify dryland agricultural systems by integrating crops and livestock. • Sub-objective 1.3 Sustainably intensify dryland agricultural systems by including biofuel-focused cropping systems. OBJECTIVE 2. Determine economic, environmental and production tradeoffs of improved soil management practices in the northern Great Plains. • Sub-objective 2.1 Quantify ecosystem services within dryland agricultural production systems. • Sub-objective 2.2 Determine tradeoffs between production, economic, and ecosystem service outcomes to sustainably intensify dryland agricultural production systems. OBJECTIVE 3. Develop soil management practices to enhance cropping systems resilience. (NP 216 C5) OBJECTIVE 4. As part of the LTAR network, and in concert with similar long-term, land-based research infrastructure in Northern Great Plains Region, use the Northern Plains LTAR site to improve the observational capabilities and data accessibility of the LTAR network, to support research to sustain or enhance agricultural production and environmental quality in agroecosystems characteristic of the Northern Great Plains region, as per the LTAR site responsibilities and other information outlined in the 2012 USDA Long- LTAR Network Request for Information (RFI), and the LTAR Shared Research Strategy, a living document that serves as a roadmap for LTAR implementation. (NP 216 C5)

The concept of sustainable intensification or increasing food production on the same area while minimizing environmental impacts and increasing the flow of ecosystem services has been advocated as a means to address the challenge of greater agricultural production demands. This project will fill significant information gaps related to genotype by environment by management (GxExM) interactions in sustainably intensifying agricultural production systems on the northern Great Plains. We will: 1) evaluate three different methods to intensify current cropping systems common in the northern Great Plains including (i) inclusion of cover crops; (ii) integration of crop-livestock systems; and (iii) biofuel focused cropping systems; 2) quantify ecosystem services of dryland agriculture production systems and associated tradeoffs among production, economic and environmental outcomes; and 3) develop guidelines for implementing management practices which enhance soil function and increase agroecosystem resilience. Successful conclusion of this project will provide producers, policy makers and government agencies with potential methods to sustainably intensify dryland agricultural production systems in the northern Great Plains. The research will contribute expanded research databases for model validation and prediction of greenhouse gas flux and soil carbon stock change. The research will also contribute to key ARS collaborations including the LTAR network, GRACEnet, REAP, and MAGGnet.

Last Modified: 10/17/2017
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