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ARS Home » Northeast Area » University Park, Pennsylvania » Pasture Systems & Watershed Management Research » Research » Research Project #434414

Research Project: Long Term Agroecosystem Research Network (LTAR) Croplands Common Experiment

Location: Pasture Systems & Watershed Management Research

Project Number: 8070-13000-014-30-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Apr 1, 2018
End Date: Dec 31, 2021

The ARS Long-Term Agroecosystems Network (LTAR) Common Experiment conducted by PSWMRU focuses on the adaption of aspirational management practices that increase productivity of dairy cropping systems, while reducing their environmental footprint. Penn State’s Sustainable Dairy Cropping Systems project provides an established infrastructure where a diversified (6-year) crop rotation with several aspirational cropping practices including winter crops, manure injection, cover crop interseeding, and other innovative practices have been studied since 2010. For comparison, the university study also has a conventionally-managed dairy forage rotation. Crop productivity and agronomic and environmental factors will be compared between systems to determine relative benefits of the aspirational practices. Partnering with the university allows utilization of crop rotations with an extensive database of past measurements to strengthen conclusions about performance of aspirational practices.

Field plots are maintained with each stage of the diversified and conventional rotations grown each year. Multiple measurements of plant and soil parameters and emissions of greenhouse gases are made at key times throughout the year. Measured crop productivity, forage quality, and soil parameters are modelled to estimate dairy herd performance and milk production based on the crops produced in the plot experiment. Modelling is also used to determine if the experimental crop rotations can provide all the feed needed by the dairy herd and to estimate the amounts of manure produced, energy requirements, and economic returns.