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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Columbus, Ohio » Soil Drainage Research » Research » Research Project #429889

Research Project: Collaborative Long-term Agricultural Research (LTAR): Ecosystem Services from Row-Crop Agriculture

Location: Soil Drainage Research

Project Number: 5080-13210-002-18-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Sep 28, 2015
End Date: Sep 27, 2020

Objective:
To prepare instrumentation for the common experiment field sites to investigate and compare the number and magnitude of ecosystem services delivered by a three year grain crop rotation under a typically managed Conventional Agriculture (CA) system and an Aspirational Management (AM) system. The ecosystem services investigated will include yield, water quality, greenhouse gas mitigation, biocontrol, and soil fertility.

Approach:
The conceptual model we use integrates ecological and social perspectives, reflecting the need to balance attention between both human and natural elements and to understand their interacting linkages. Management at the CA and AM sites will thus reflect these underpinnings and seek to exploit potential large differences in ecosystem service provision between the management styles. Our CA system will be a corn-soybean-winter wheat rotation grown with conventional tillage, conventional levels of fertilizers and pesticides, and transgenic corn and soybean, without cover crops or manure or irrigation. Our AM system will be informed by our LTAR long-term cropping system experiment wherein biologically-based inputs are substituted as far as possible for chemical inputs. The AM cropping system will likely be a no-till corn-soybean-winter wheat rotation with legume cover crops before the soybean and corn; transgenic crop varieties; no till; weed control provided by herbicides; one-third of the nitrogen fertilizer provided to the CA system, and nearby native vegetation to provide refugia for arthropod predators. Seeds, herbicides, insecticides, and fertilizers will be applied using variable rate technology. No manure or irrigation will be added. The system is similar to the reduced-input system used for LTAR research that provides yields equivalent to the CA system. The CA and AM systems will be established on replicate fields potentially with each phase of the rotation represented each year.