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ARS Home » Plains Area » Lincoln, Nebraska » Agroecosystem Management Research » Research » Research Project #440587

Research Project: Optimizing Cover Crop Decisions for Enhanced Productivity, Resilience and Environmental Sustainability

Location: Agroecosystem Management Research

Project Number: 3042-21600-001-005-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Aug 1, 2021
End Date: Jul 31, 2025

1. Quantify benefits of cover crops in terms of enhancing resilience, agroecosystem services and productivity under current and future climate and management. 2. Evaluate climate change mitigation potential of cover crops under current and projected climate. 3. Assess the application of seasonal climate forecast information to make informed cover crop management decisions; Develop an experimental cover crop decision support tool for High Plains Aquifer/Platte River (HPA-PR) LTAR region as proof–of-concept.

A database of biophysical parameters from 18 LTAR sites will be developed and used for DSSAT model set up, calibration and validation for HPA-PR regions. DSSAT will be used to run a range of scenario analysis to evaluate performance of cover cropping under historical (1990-2020) and projected climate change (2020-2050) conditions. The seasonal climate forecast will be based on the North American Multi-Model Ensembles that will be downscaled to HPA-PR LTAR sites using long-term gauging stations records. An innovative approach that integrates seasonal forecasting into cover crop management decisions will be developed and tested for its ability to maximize cover crop benefits. Site specific climate change projections for LTAR sites will be downscaled for two emission scenarios (RCP4.5-best case and RCP8.5-worst case). Downscaled projections will later be used as an input to DSSAT to assess impact of changed climate on performance of cover cropping and evaluate performance of different adaptation strategies. Given the big data and computationally intensive simulations involved, the SciNET will be used. The goal of this study is to apply crop simulations modeling to quantify the impact of long-term cover crop usage in variable cropping systems under multiple management and climate scenarios and develop an experimental decision support tool.