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ARS Home » Midwest Area » St. Paul, Minnesota » Soil and Water Management Research » Research » Research Project #431860

Research Project: Increasing the Productivity and Resilience to Climate Variability of Agricultural Production Systems in the Upper Midwest U.S. while Reducing Negative Impact on the Environment

Location: Soil and Water Management Research

Project Number: 5062-12000-010-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Oct 31, 2016
End Date: Oct 24, 2021

1. Assess the environmental impacts of crop management practices that have the potential to improve soil health and decrease greenhouse gas emissions in the Upper Midwest. a. Develop a perennialized row crop system that reduces the environmental footprint of agriculture and improves its resilience, without adverse impacts on water usage and profitability. b. Develop new knowledge regarding soil nitrogen cycling and nitric and nitrous oxide production mechanisms. c. Develop new knowledge of chemical triggering compounds of microbial activity. 2. Increase nutrient use efficiency and reduce nutrient losses to leaching, runoff and atmospheric emissions in Upper Midwest cropping systems. a. Develop improved methods to quantify and to reduce losses of reactive N gases from fertilized cropping systems. b. Evaluate manure management practices for improvement of nutrient cycling and reduction of reactive nitrogen losses on large dairies.

All the objectives of this project have a common focus on quantifying the impacts of management practices, including crop rotation/cover crops, irrigation, and synthetic N fertilizer or manure amendments, on GHG emissions and nutrient availability for crop uptake or susceptibility to loss to the environment. The different objectives complement each other in several ways. In order to gain insights from multiple perspectives, the methods for each objective range across scales, including large field and larger plot studies (sub-objective 1a); replicated small-plots (2a); soil column mesocosms (2b); and laboratory microcosms (1b, 1c). The same set of soil types representing a range of Minnesota agricultural soils from across the state, including soil from both field experiments (1a and 2a), will be used in the microcosm and mesocosm experiments (1b, 1c and 2b). Thus, results from the three laboratory experiments each of which have different primary objectives, will inform and help to interpret results of the other lab studies; and results from the lab experiments under more controlled conditions will inform results of the field experiments that are subject to dynamic climate conditions. Both of the field experiments (1a and 2a) will measure greenhouse gas emissions and ammonia volatilization losses from cropping systems under similar soil types (the same soil series) but with different management regimes, which may also allow for cross-site comparison of results. This research also complements efforts within several national projects and initiatives, including the Greenhouse Gas Reduction through Agricultural Carbon Enhancement (GRACEnet), Resilient Economic Agricultural Practices (REAP), Dairy Agro-ecosystem Working Group (DAWG) and Long-Term Agricultural Research (LTAR) networks; and as such will involve collaboration with several colleagues from other ARS locations, universities and other organizations.