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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Orono, Maine » New England Plant, Soil and Water Research Laboratory » Research » Research Project #425507

Research Project: Improved Crop Production Systems for the Northeast

Location: New England Plant, Soil and Water Research Laboratory

Project Number: 8030-62660-003-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Sep 9, 2013
End Date: Sep 8, 2018

1: Develop crop and cultural management practices to improve crop productivity and economic viability, and reduce diseases for conventional and organic food production systems in the Northeast. 1.1. Develop management practices and cropping systems that maintain or improve productivity and market quality, reduce soilborne and foliar diseases, reduce income variability and economic risk, and improve profitability and competitiveness for potato-based production systems. 1.2. Develop crop, biological, and cultural management practices to improve crop productivity, reduce diseases, and improve economic viability for conventional and organic vegetable production systems. 1.3. Determine activity, mechanisms of action, and improved means of implementation of selected biological and cultural practices for enhanced efficacy, utilization, and sustainability.

Our approach to improving crop productivity and enhancing economic viability for food production systems in the Northeast is through the development of improved biological and cultural management practices and cropping systems. There are many practices and amendments that have been previously identified, in ours and others research, as providing beneficial responses for these production systems. However, much research is still needed to determine the best ways to utilize and implement these practices in production agriculture. In our own previous research, through long-term cropping systems studies, we determined the areas that are the most crucial constraints to productivity in potato production systems, as well as some factors that were less important. Critical constraints were water availability, soil quality, and disease pressure, whereas previously studied criteria such as fertility and soil physical properties (which has already been well-worked out) were not critical factors. This proposed research is building directly on this previous research, further developing and refining management practices that have shown the greatest potential for reducing soilborne diseases, enhancing soil quality, and improving crop yields in a sustainable manner. Management practices of particular importance include the use of disease-suppressive rotation crops, cover crops, green manures, and biological control organisms. Special emphasis will be placed on the biological processes involved and the role of soil microbial communities in developing disease-suppressive, yield-enhancing cropping systems.