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Research Project: Expanding Understanding and Availability of Agroecosystem Adaptation Strategies

Location: Sustainable Agricultural Water Systems Research

Project Number: 2032-12610-002-002-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Sep 23, 2019
End Date: Mar 31, 2022

California has a bold set of innovative climate-focused initiatives intended for growers to adapt and mitigate the effects of climate change. However, the general pulse from many in science and technical translation communities is that more work is needed to advance the suite of potential practice based approaches for growers to meet these challenges put forward from the state. At the same time, those of us that function in boundary organizations like the USDA Climate Hubs are told that more investment is needed to help exchange and translate these potentially effective solutions to meet the targets that underpin these initiatives. Soil management is not a novel topic in production agriculture. However the science and conversation around the potential of amendments such as compost, biochar and/or pulverized rock to increase resilience and realize greenhouse gas reduction targets is much more aspirational. In some instances, soil amendments have shown great promise at mitigating climate extremes by increasing soil organic carbon development but these have only been evaluated in limited agricultural production systems. However, techniques such as pulverized rock and compost applications have received less attention. This effort will dovetail and advance a current project focused on soil mapping for targeted application of climate adaptation practices. The conversation around soil management and amendments has a clear coupling with water. Water is a critical economic and agroecological concern for growers, policy makers and regulators. The demand on water resources has become more tense as it’s the primary tool for producers to ameliorate climate mediated events including sensitive stage frost and extreme heat. A great deal of research has been done around water use efficiency in light of increasing demand and more restricted supply, but the information isn’t uniformly or widely available. This is a great deal of research and associated information that indicates select soil management practices and approaches, potentially some of those outlined above can help but resources that help exchange this information and educate users is lacking.

The proposed work will translate science into practice, particularly at the nexus of water management, soil health, and climate on California’s working lands through the development of a menu of adaptation strategites and approaches for specific cropping systems in California and portions of Arizona where applicable. The California Climate Hub will work with collaborators with the University of California in the College of Agriculture and Environment Science, the John Muir Institute of the Environment, and ARS scientists at the Crops Pathology and Genetics Unit to advance agricultural focused adaptation strategies, approaches and practices for primarily perennial cropping systems in California and portions of Arizona and New Mexico where applicable. We propose to co-design 2-4 translational products about soil amendment applications, in collaboration with a transdisciplinary team of scientists (ARS and University) and stakeholder partners. We intend to develop these application-based frameworks for technology translators (NRCS, RCDs, extension) as well as producers around the understanding and potential application of soil amendments, water management practices and associated activities in support of healthy soils tailored for climate adaptation and sequestration targets.