|BOODY, GEORGE - Land Stewardship Project
Submitted to: Meeting Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/30/2011
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Ecosystem services provided by the Chippewa River Watershed are being threatened by human as well as climatic factors. A simulation study was conducted on 12 locations throughout the watershed to predict the value of adding a perennial crop to the corn-soybean crop rotation. The simulation results offer strategies to optimize site-specific crop rotations. The simulated impact of increasing perennial land-use in managed ecosystems across the watershed on several crop and soil processes suggested that farmers can help improve environmental health through sustained carbon sequestration and reductions in soil erosion, runoff, and nutrient leaching. Diversifying the corn-soybean crop rotations by including a perennial crop would offer farmers a way to mitigate negative environmental impacts caused by corn and soybean production while providing an additional source of income. The information is of value to farmers, extension agents and the public at large as guidelines to develop adaptive management in the watershed, minimize human and climatic impact on the production base within the watershed and to help develop multifunctional production systems.
Technical Abstract: Intensive crop production in the Chippewa River Watershed (CRW) in West Central Minnesota has altered the dynamics and nature of water, sediments, and nutrients and resulted in biophysical changes within and beyond the watershed. Opportunities to improve the ecological functioning of managed and natural ecosystems in CRW include reducing soil erosion, runoff, and nutrient leaching. We hypothesized that increasing perennial land-use in managed ecosystems will improve environmental health through sustained carbon sequestration and concomitant reductions in soil erosion, runoff, and nutrient leaching. We calibrated, validated, and used a modular modeling framework to simulate the impact of 100 years each of historical and projected weather variables in combination with soil data and current and alternative crop rotations on biophysical processes of the predominant farming systems in 12 representative soil series located throughout the CRW. Different soil series, depending on their physical characteristics and position in the landscape, varied in their response to increasing the proportion of perennials in the crop rotation, and in their buffering capacity to reduce the negative impact of projected climate change. Simulation results suggested that farmers in CRW can diversify current cropping systems, enhance the buffering capacity of their land, and help mitigate the impact of future climate change by adjusting land-use to accommodate more perennials in future crop rotations. This will help develop multifunctional production systems that can produce standard commodities as well as a wide range of other ecosystem services.