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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Ames, Iowa » National Laboratory for Agriculture and The Environment » Soil, Water & Air Resources Research » Research » Research Project #427229

Research Project: Field Evaluation of a Humic Product for Corn-based Rotations in the Mid-latitudes

Location: Soil, Water & Air Resources Research

Project Number: 5030-12000-015-17-T
Project Type: Trust Fund Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Sep 1, 2014
End Date: Aug 31, 2019

Objective:
(1) Identify the amount by which nitrogen fertilizer input to corn can be reduced by using a humic product; (2) Determine the benefits of humic product use to corn root growth and enhancement of soil carbon stocks and soil quality; (3) Collaborate with a Uruguayan collaborator and cooperator on formal field evaluations of a humic product in soybean, corn, and possibly other crops in South American nations, including Uruguay.

Approach:
This project is a renewal of an initial 5-year project. It will complete two field experiments in corn fields of central Iowa that we began late in the initial project. One experiment measures the benefit of humic product amendment to corn growth and grain yield at multiple application rates of nitrogen fertilizer to determine whether fertilizer inputs can be reduced with humic product application and still meet yield targets, thereby minimizing fertilizer costs and environmental contamination by excess nitrogen. The second experiment describes the benefits of the enhanced crop root system that we have associated with humic product use to soil carbon stocks and soil properties that typically benefit from active soil carbon, including soil resistance, aggregation and bulk density. In both experiments we will also measure yield components, grain yield, and crop nutrient uptake. A new activity in this new project is that we will apply the knowledge gained from the initial project to new field evaluations of the same humic product that will be conducted in corn-based rotations in Uruguay and possibly adjacent South American nations. Working together with the Cooperator, a farm management company in Uruguay, and a Uruguayan cooperator, we will design formal field evaluations of the humic product, identify crop and soil measurements that the Uruguayan collaborator will conduct, identify optimal fields and locations within those fields for establishing the field treatments, help interpret results, perform specialized laboratory analyses for the biochemical nature of plant samples that the Uruguayan collaborator cannot perform, and co-publish the findings. Future work might include field evaluations of the same humic product on additional crop types in the Midwest and/or Uruguay and adjacent South America nations.