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ARS Home » Plains Area » Lincoln, Nebraska » Agroecosystem Management Research » Research » Research Project #445470

Research Project: Evaluating Management Strategies to Increase Agroecosystem Productivity, Resilience, and Viability

Location: Agroecosystem Management Research

Project Number: 3042-21600-001-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Oct 15, 2023
End Date: Oct 15, 2024

Objective 1: Evaluate impacts of conservation tillage practices and crop diversity on soil carbon sequestration, greenhouse gas emissions, and soil microbial communities. Subobjective 1A: Determine how crop rotation diversification affects soil organic carbon. Subobjective 1B: Quantify soil greenhouse gas emissions from different management and cropping systems. Subobjective 1C: Quantify soil microbial communities from different management and cropping systems. Objective 2: Quantify the impacts of modified management practices of integrated crop-livestock systems to improve agricultural productivity in a temperate environment. Subobjective 2A: Determine soil physical, chemical, and biological quality changes under integrated crop-livestock (ICL) systems. Subobjective 2B: Determine soil greenhouse gas fluxes from ICL systems. Objective 3. Quantify water management and nutrient management effects on the productivity of crop and feedstock production systems. Subobjective 3A: Determine water use in annual and perennial systems used for bioenergy. Subobjective 3B: Evaluate nitrogen use efficiency on long-term cropping systems. Objective 4: Operate and maintain the Platte River – High Plains Aquifer Long-Term Agroecosystem Research (LTAR) network site using technologies and practices agreed upon by the LTAR leadership. Contribute to the LTAR working groups and common experiments as resources allow. Submit relevant data with appropriate metadata to the LTAR Information Ecosystem. Subobjective 4A: Establish and instrument LTAR research sites. Subobjective 4B: Contribute data to the LTAR database as requested.

An integrated, systems approach is needed to improve agricultural systems toward greater sustainability to meet societal demands for food, feed, fiber, and fuel. Soil and crop management strategies that optimize the capacity of cropland and grassland soils to store carbon while minimizing greenhouse gas emissions from nitrogen fertilizer and other management practices are required. Past research has increased crop nutrient and water use efficiencies through best management practices coupled with the development of better germplasm. More improvements are required to adapt to climate variability and change, increased competition for limited water resources, and increased demand by a growing population and improved standard of living. Further, a better understanding of how genetics, management, and environmental conditions affects soil organic carbon dynamics, including impacts on soil microbial structure and function, is needed to improve or maintain critical soil functions and associated ecosystem services. Research activities will investigate the role of agronomic practices on soil properties and greenhouse gas fluxes (Objective 1), quantify productivity and soil quality in integrated crop-livestock systems (Objective 2), determine nutrient and water management effects on crop and feedstock production systems (Objective 3), and operate and maintain the Platte River—High Plains long-term agroecosystem research site in collaboration with University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) (Objective 4). Although each objective has a specific research focus, we recognize that a systems-based approach is required and will integrate these research objectives, as needed, to improve our current understanding of integrated agricultural systems. Results will be shared with producers, consultants, extension educators, state and federal regulatory agency personnel, and other scientists. Products resulting from this project plan will contribute to improved soil, crop, and integrated crop-livestock management relevant approaches and tools applicable to temperate regions within sub-humid and semi-arid environments.