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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Morris, Minnesota » Soil Management Research » Research » Research Project #437622

Research Project: Optimizing Oilseed and Alternative Grain Crops: Innovative Production Systems and Agroecosystem Services

Location: Soil Management Research

Project Number: 5060-21220-007-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Dec 3, 2019
End Date: Dec 2, 2024

Our overall goal is to develop multipurpose alternative oilseed and grain crops and innovative crop management strategies to diversify agricultural systems, reduce and/or efficiently utilize agricultural inputs, and add new economic opportunities and agroecosystem services for crop production in the Upper Midwest region. Over the next five years our research will focus on the following objective: Objective 1: Identify sustainable alternative crops that complement corn and soybean and develop innovative production systems suitable for the Upper Midwest that efficiently use agricultural inputs and provide agroecosystem services, as well as new economic opportunities for end users. • Subobjective 1A. Identify alternative oilseed crop genotypes with improved agronomic traits such as abiotic stress tolerance and reduced seed shattering that optimize productivity. • Subobjective 1B. Develop new and improve existing practices for managing alternative oilseed crops and traditional crops to produce food, feed, and fuel while providing agroecosystem services (e.g., reducing soil erosion, scavenging excess N & P, and supporting pollinators). • Subobjective 1C. Develop new and improve existing double- and relay-crop sequences with winter oilseed cover crops while protecting soils, suppressing weeds, and promoting pollinator abundance and diversity throughout the growing season. • Subobjective 1D. Determine interactions of climate, soils, plants, and agricultural management on agroecosystem functions of pollinator forage and nutrition, crop nutrient capture and usage, soil GHG emissions, and carbon dynamics in novel and traditional cropping systems.

Our primary objective and overall goal is to develop new crops and innovative strategies to deploy them across the agricultural landscape to diversify Midwestern cropping systems, reduce or minimize negative impact, and improve economic and environmental sustainability while enhancing production. The following approaches will be taken to accomplish this: 1) identify new and alternative oilseed and small grain genotypes best suited for production in the Northern Corn Belt region, 2) develop best management practices for their production, 3) integrate them with traditional crops into innovative cropping systems (e.g., double- and relay-cropping) to sustainably intensify crop production, and 4) develop a better understanding of the impact of climate, soils, plants, and crop management on pollinator forage and nutrition, crop nutrient capture and usage, soil greenhouse gas emissions, and carbon dynamics in new and traditional cropping systems. These new crops and cropping systems will provide new economic opportunities, create healthier food choices, and increase agricultural input-use efficiency while adding agroecosystem benefits such as improved soil, air, and water quality and abundant resources to sustain healthy pollinator populations. Together, the outcomes of this research will enhance agricultural land-use efficiency and benefit U.S. farmers, rural communities, human health, chemical and food industries, as well as government and academia scientists.