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ARS Home » Plains Area » Fort Collins, Colorado » Center for Agricultural Resources Research » Soil Management and Sugarbeet Research » Research » Research Project #441360

Research Project: Agricultural Management for Long-Term Sustainability and Soil Health

Location: Soil Management and Sugarbeet Research

Project Number: 3012-12210-001-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Feb 2, 2022
End Date: Feb 1, 2027

1. Evaluate the influence of conservation practices (e.g., tillage, cover crops, and soil amendments) on C and nutrient cycling through the soil profile to inform management and cropping system practices regarding optimization of C and nutrient cycling for increased productivity, sustainability, and ecosystem services. o Sub-Objectives 1.A-1.D can be found in uploaded post plan in Related Docs. 2. Investigate the effects of integrating multiple conservation practices (e.g., tillage, cover crops) on crop productivity and soil health to provide information and support development of tools to producers and managers in response to conservation practice adoption. o Sub-Objectives 2.A and 2.B can be found in uploaded post plan in Related Docs. 3. Evaluate the long-term ecosystem benefits of conservation practices resilient to climatic variation to provide data and tools to producers and farm managers for assessing best conservation practices. o Sub-Objectives 3.A-3.C can be found in uploaded post plan in Related Docs. 4. Develop management practices incorporating the latest technology developments for a field-size aspirational four-year dryland crop rotation system with precision nutrient, agrichemical, and weed control and crop population management. 212 C4 PS4A,4B. 5. Evaluate potential alternative crops and management practices for introduction into the aspirational wheat-based dryland rotation system. 212 C4 PS4A, 4B.

Soil function is an interplay of physical, chemical, and biological processes, and soil microbes play a direct role in driving soil chemical and physical processes important for overall ecosystem function. There remains, however, substantial uncertainty regarding how critical factors such as the soil’s microbiome, variabilities in nutrient cycling, management strategies, and variabilities in environment and/or climate change all interact to determine agricultural productivity and environmental outcomes. This project utilizes a holistic systems approach to develop new Best Management Practices and understanding of the interactive nature and interdependence of the Genetics x Environment x Management (GxExM) factors that result in highly productive and resilient agricultural systems. The objectives of this research are designed to integrate the scientists’ expertise related to soil function, crop productivity, and ecosystem services; each scientist is an expert in his/her field and responsible for the measurement of performance variables including, but not limited to, nutrient cycling, GHG monitoring and modeling, soil C sequestration and cycling, and soil biology structure and function. The knowledge and outcomes of this work will contribute to increased yield and profit sustainability for farmers; protection of ecosystems; increased nutrient use efficiency (NUE) and reduced losses of N from of N input application; and improved understanding of N cycling in cropping systems. Additionally, this research will increase C sequestration (C-Seq), reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, enhance soil quality/soil health, and increase resilience to climate change. These studies will contribute to improved agricultural production supported by a deeper understanding of soil biological processes; they will also contribute to improved soil biological properties and functions and to the development of sustainable agricultural systems in the Great Plains.