Skip to main content
ARS Home » Midwest Area » Madison, Wisconsin » U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center » Dairy Forage Research » Research » Research Project #437941

Research Project: Cropland Carbon Sequestration, Emissions, and Ecosystem Service Comparisons in Alfalfa and Corn Based Integrated Crop-Livestock Systems

Location: Dairy Forage Research

Project Number: 5090-12210-001-026-R
Project Type: Reimbursable Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: May 1, 2020
End Date: Dec 31, 2022

The broad objective of the research is to quantify primary productivity and emissions from production areas in an integrated crop-livestock system, and evaluate the potential for perennials within the dairy diet to serve as carbon sinks and offset farm emissions, and generate ecosystem services. The particular focus of this project is to compare the environmental performance of alfalfa, corn silage, and corn grain.

Monthly field measurements (Mar-Nov 2020) will be collected in a stratified random sampling design, with random sampling designated within alfalfa, corn grain, and corn silage production areas in the footprint of the farm eddy covariance tower. Field measurements will include soil respiration, bulk density (compaction), infiltration, soil and air temperature, soil moisture, relative humidity, and NDVI (measure of vegetation reflectance). Laboratory analyses will include soil enzyme and carbon fractionation of samples collected monthly during the growing season. Data will be analyzed to discern the relative contributions of crop type (alfalfa, corn grain, corn silage) to carbon emissions and sequestration, and metrics of soil health, within the dairy production system. Data will be processed to compare ecosystem services generated by crop type, and implications for resilience to weather extremes.