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ARS Home » Plains Area » Mandan, North Dakota » Northern Great Plains Research Laboratory » Research » Research Project #435506

Research Project: Sustainable Agricultural Systems for the Northern Great Plains

Location: Northern Great Plains Research Laboratory

Project Number: 3064-21660-004-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Oct 1, 2018
End Date: Sep 30, 2023

Objective 1: Develop strategies to increase production and selected non-provisioning ecosystem services while increasing socio-economic performance of grazing, crop, and integrated crop/livestock systems. Objective 2: Develop options for integrated agricultural systems that reduce production risks, and enhance economic viability and ecosystem services under extreme weather conditions. Objective 3: Assess the effects of management strategies aimed at enhancing ecosystem services on the nutrient content of crop and livestock products. This objective will be enhanced by including research on the plant physiological changes that may affect nutrient density of crops, according to the following subobjective: Subobjective 3C: Evaluate the impact of management strategies including use of phytochemical-rich cover crops and pulse crops on soil and plant function and linkages to crop and meat nutrient density and functional quality. New Subobjective 3D: Identify and quantify plant responses to soil management and abiotic and biotic stresses that affect crop and forage productivity, nutrient density, and functional quality. Objective 4: Operate and maintain the Northern Great Plains LTAR network site using technologies and practices agreed upon by the LTAR leadership. Contribute to the LTAR working groups and common experiments as resources allow. Submit relevant data with appropriate metadata to the LTAR Information Ecosystem. Objective 5: Improve the social and economic sustainability of food production systems for current and future climates in the northern states.

Agriculture not only faces the challenge of meeting growing needs for food, feed, fuel, and fiber, but also providing non-provisioning ecosystem services while adapting to variable weather conditions. This project builds upon previous research at the Northern Great Plains Research Laboratory (NGPRL), by continuing and expanding research on how management scenarios can impact ecosystem services, but also evaluating the effect of management on nutrient concentrations and providing ways to scale the research to landscape and national levels. The project will continue to develop sustainable management strategies for crops and livestock while using this knowledge to develop more efficient crop-livestock systems (Objective 1). Through collaboration with other ARS locations, NGPRL will determine how different management strategies affect nutrient concentration in crops and carcass quality in livestock (Objective 3). Modelling will be used to scale findings at the plot or field scale to landscape or regional levels and to explore potential management options for producers under variable weather conditions (Objective 2). Finally, NGPRL is involved in multiple national networks, including the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) and the Long Term Agroecosystem Research (LTAR) network, which allow network collaborations to leverage local expertise and scale and share research findings at a national level. The NGPRL is uniquely suited to conduct this multitier research because it has a diversity of landscapes and disciplines in which conduct these multiple approaches to sustainably intensify agriculture. We anticipate that completing this project plan will produce contributions to network databases and also guidelines for developing sustainable integrated agricultural systems. Outcomes from the project will benefit producers, the scientific community and policy makers by producing guidelines and management options.