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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Morris, Minnesota » Soil Management Research » Research » Research Project #435770

Research Project: Enhancing Cropping System Sustainability Through New Crops and Management Strategies

Location: Soil Management Research

Project Number: 5060-21220-006-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Oct 29, 2018
End Date: Dec 2, 2019

Our long-term goal of this project is to develop new oilseed crops (e.g., cuphea, calendula, and camelina) and innovative crop management and weed control strategies that reduce and/or efficiently use costly agricultural inputs. Ultimately, the integration of these new crops, new knowledge and management strategies will provide producers with economically and environmentally-sustainable cropping systems. Over the next five years our research will focus on the following objectives: Objective 1: Identify and develop new crops and innovative management strategies to efficiently utilize agricultural inputs, improve cropping efficiency and productivity, as well as enhance various ecosystem components in short-season high stress environments. Sub-objective 1A. Identify species and varieties of new and alternative oilseed crops that show the best agronomic potential for biofuel/bioproduct feedstock production. Sub-objective 1B. Develop new methods and improve existing strategies to integrate and manage new, alternative, and traditional crops to produce food, feed, fuel, and bioproducts. Sub-objective 1C. Develop diversified crop sequences that are economically sustainable using new and traditional crops with the aim of improving health and abundance of pollinators and other beneficial insects. Objective 2: Develop novel and innovative weed control strategies, evaluate their effectiveness (primarily in short-season, high-stress environments), and integrate into cropping strategies. Sub-objective 2A. Optimize entirely new techniques for controlling weeds that are appropriate for row crops in the NCB and elsewhere. Sub-objective 2B. Integrate new and existing tactics with weed biology into sustainable management systems.

Our goal is to develop new oilseed crops and innovative crop and weed management strategies that diversify and improve the efficiency of cropping systems and reduce costly agricultural inputs while adding new economic and environmental benefits. Two mutually supporting approaches will be taken to accomplish this goal. The first employs a series of experiments to identify new oilseed crop genotypes for biofuels/bioproducts feedstock best suited for the northern Corn Belt, develop best management practices for their production, and develop strategies to integrate them with traditional crops into modified systems. The second involves developing new weed control strategies and increased knowledge of microclimate interactions with weed biology to design and optimize weed management protocols to deploy in new cropping systems that include new, alternative and traditional crops. Together, the outcomes of this research will enhance land-use efficiency and provide new economic opportunities and new ecosystem benefits, such as nutritional resources that promote healthy pollinator populations.