Skip to main content
ARS Home » Plains Area » Fort Collins, Colorado » Center for Agricultural Resources Research » Soil Management and Sugarbeet Research » Research » Research Project #436760

Research Project: Development of Long-term Best Management Practices to Adapt to a Changing Climate

Location: Soil Management and Sugarbeet Research

Project Number: 3012-11200-002-006-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Sep 6, 2019
End Date: Sep 5, 2021

Agricultural management practices can have profound effects, both positive and negative, on the soil resource that cumulatively affect crop productivity. Long-term field research is essential to fully evaluating these impacts. One of the main research approaches to achieving the goal described below is the use of long-term research conducted at the Agricultural Research, Development and Education Center (ARDEC) located near Fort Collins, Colorado, to monitor the effects of traditional and best-management/new agricultural practices on soil physical, chemical, and microbiological processes. New cropping systems and management practices will maintain and/or improve sustainability. A second approach is to repeat similar studies to test the previous findings about crop rotations and best management practices from the studies at ARDEC, at other Colorado State University research centers, or at farmer fields to compare how these new management practices and cropping systems perform in other regions. The goal of this research is to continue evaluating the development of these new best management practices to develop sustainable production systems that can adapt to and/or mitigate climate change. Aspects of sustainable production systems will include increased nutrient use efficiencies (especially nitrogen and phosphorus); reduced losses of reactive nitrogen; reduced emissions of greenhouse gases (especially N2O); increased soil microbial functioning, soil health and carbon sequestration; and resilience to climate variability. Greenhouse studies will also be conducted to assess effects of manure and biosolids on phosphorus availability to crops and uptake of other beneficial and non-beneficial elements.

This work will continue to evaluate the long-term research. Five long-term rotations and other new rotations including cover crops will be evaluated, including an ongoing long-term study of GRACEnet and NUOnet field plots. This research will be utilized to: i) develop new cropping systems and best management practices that will increase fertilizer nitrogen use efficiencies and reduce losses of reactive nitrogen to the environment to protect air and water quality; ii) develop new cropping systems and best management practices with improved soil health and potential for climate change adaptation. In addition, if possible, work on producer fields that are cooperators with Colorado State University will be performed to evaluate how these new cropping systems and best management practices could contribute to increased productivity and soil health under commercial systems. These studies will be conducted on cropping systems receiving inorganic, organic, or inorganic and organic fertilizers. A nitrogen balance will be conducted in at least one of the studies by measuring different pools of N in the soil, crop N uptake, and N inputs. Greenhouse gases (GHG) will be monitored in at least one of the studies by using the chamber method to measure CO2, CH4, and N2O emissions. Soil carbon sequestration or losses will be measured by at least one of the studies by measuring the above-ground carbon component and different soil carbon pools. Soil health will be assessed by measuring changes in soil carbon content and effects on soil biology. Soil microbial function will be evaluated by measuring abundance of beneficial bacteria in the soil.