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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: 8070-13000-015-020-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Apr 1, 2018
End Date: Mar 31, 2023

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 possible entry point in the two rotations represented each year. Multiple measurements of plant and soil parameters and emission of greenhouse gases will be made at key times throughout the year. Measured crop productivity and quality and soil parameters will be modeled to determine additional feed inputs needs for the simulated dairy herd, potential excess feed available for off-farms sale, manure production and nutrient content, energy and nutrient balances, and economic return. Crop planting, harvest, and weed and pest control will be consistent with practices used at the farm scale. We are conducting independent research projects that investigate sustainable production practices in dairy forage cropping systems. This project will enable us to meet the objectives of this project and strengthen and enhance ongoing research within the scope of this agreement. We will: 1. Work closely with ARS in planning and conducting the outlined research. 2. Manage field plots including crop production operations, pest and weed management, and collection of data such as crop yield and quality. 3. Coordinate field operations with university farm staff. The ARS USDA will: 1. Work closely with The Pennsylvania State University in planning and conducting the outlined research. 2. Provide resources to support project technician. 3. Collect data on soil nutrient status, water quality, and gaseous emissions.