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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Stoneville, Mississippi » Crop Production Systems Research » Research » Research Project #435761

Research Project: Assessment and Improvement of Soil Health under Modern Cropping Systems in the Mid-Southern United States

Location: Crop Production Systems Research

Project Number: 6066-12220-006-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Aug 2, 2018
End Date: Jul 19, 2023

Objective 1. Evaluate different cover crop species, tillage practices, and management strategies for increasing soil health and crop productivity. Sub-objective 1A. Determine the effects of different cover crop combinations on soil health and crop yield in corn production systems. Sub-objective 1B. Assess the long-term impact of crop rotation, cover crop, and no till practices on soil health. Objective 2. Determine the impact of 2,4-D on soil health in corn, cotton, and soybean production systems. Sub-objective 2A. Assess the potential impacts of 2,4-D+glyphosate application on biological parameters in bulk soil. Sub-objective 2B. Evaluate the efects of 2,4-D+glyphosate application on soil biological parameters in corn, cotton, and soybean systems.

Agricultural management practices, such as tillage and herbicide application, can have detrimental effects on soil quality that may ultimately impose limitations on sustained crop production. As such, better management practices are needed in modern cropping systems that promote soil health while sustaining optimum crop yields. Cover crops have gained increased attention as a way to promote soil heath and water quality through reduced soil erosion, improved soil tilth and organic matter, and enhanced activity of microbial communities in soil. Cover crop use in the Mid-South United States has been limited, but farmers in the region are beginning to show an interest in incorporating them as a management practice to improve soil health and ensure sustainable production. Proposed research will evaluate how different types of cover crops impact key aspects of soil health and row crop yields, including corn, cotton, and sorghum. With this knowledge, recommendations can be made to farmers on what cover crop combinations are best for improving soil health while optimizing crop production in the Mid-South region. Agricultural systems also face the challenge of controlling glyphosate resistant weed populations. New cropping systems tolerant to both glyphosate and 2,4- dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) are being introduced as a way to combat glyphosate- resistant weeds. However, herbicides have the potential to inhibit microbial populations, and there is limited information available on how 2,4-D might impact soil health. Thus, this research will examine impacts of 2,4-D+glyphosate on soil health in cotton, corn and soybean systems under field conditions. This project will result in guidelines for practices that ensure long-term sustainability of soil health while maintaining optimal crop production.