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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Orono, Maine » New England Plant, Soil and Water Research Laboratory » Research » Research Project #445485

Research Project: Addressing Challenges in Northeastern Cropping Systems to Enhance Sustainability, Resilience, and Profitability

Location: New England Plant, Soil and Water Research Laboratory

Project Number: 8030-21600-001-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Sep 9, 2023
End Date: Sep 8, 2028

Objective 1: Improve and optimize management practices and cropping systems for resilience to biotic and abiotic challenges, soil health, crop productivity, and long-term sustainability for organic and conventional food production systems in the Northeast. Sub-objective 1.A: Assess and implement management strategies for potato-based production systems that reduce soilborne diseases, improve soil health, and increase yield. Sub-objective 1.B: Develop and implement management strategies for organic vegetable production systems, including green manure and cover cropping options, that improve crop productivity, soil health, and disease management and reduce environmental impacts. Sub-objective 1.C: Determine relationships and interactions between management practices and soil microbiome characteristics, and their impacts on crop productivity and disease management.

Our approach to addressing challenges in northeastern cropping systems is through the development of improved biological and cultural management practices and incorporating these into integrated cropping systems. Previous research has identified soil and crop management practices, such as disease-suppressive rotation crops, cover crops, green manures, biological control, organic amendments, and other practices that can reduce some constraints, but research is needed to fully develop and evaluate the incorporation of different management practices into integrated cropping systems that are resilient, sustainable, and productive. This research, which expands and builds upon previous cropping systems research, will evaluate cropping systems for their effects on soil health, crop production, soilborne diseases, soil microbiology, and economic viability. Long-term resilience, sustainability, and productivity will be assessed through an existing potato cropping systems trial that has been in place for 20 years. The soil microbiome is critically important in soil health and crop production and will be explored in detail in both potato and organic vegetable systems, and relationships and interactions among the soil microbiome, cropping systems, and soil health will be determined, leading toward active management of the soil microbiome for improved crop production. Products and information developed through this research will be transferred directly to growers through publications, presentations, demonstrations, online resources, and on-farm trials. This research is expected to enhance crop production and sustainability, improving agricultural viability and economic vitality in the Northeast.