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Research Project: HEADQUARTERS COOPERATIVE PROGRAMS - NATURAL RESOURCES AND SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURAL SYSTEMS (NR&SAS)

Location: Natural Resources and Sustainable Agricultural Systems

Title: A Long-Term Agro-ecosystem Research (LTAR) Network of the United States

Author
item Walbridge, Mark

Submitted to: Orgeval Basin
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/1/2013
Publication Date: 5/1/2013
Citation: Walbridge, M.R. 2013. A Long-Term Agro-ecosystem Research (LTAR) Network of the United States. Orgeval Basin. Paper No. 58. p. 51.

Interpretive Summary: As 2050 approaches, bringing with it the need to provide food, feed, fiber, and fuel sufficient to support a global population of 9 billion people, the question has become not how to sustain current levels of production over the long term, but rather how to sustainably intensify agricultural production, primarily on lands already under cultivation. Over the last 10 years, there have been frequent calls for the creation of a long-term agro-ecosystem research (LTAR) network to support research on agricultural sustainability at the watershed/landscape-scale. Such a network could provide the infrastructure needed to address the sustainable intensification of agricultural production at watershed, landscape, regional, and continental scales. Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service organized 10 of its best experimental watersheds, ranges, and research farms into an LTAR network. Network sites have historical databases that extend up to 100 years into the past, a history of collaborative research with a broad group of partners and stakeholders, and demonstrated productivity in terms of publishing both their research findings and making their data available to a wide variety of potential users. Five sites represent cropland systems primarily in the eastern and central US (The Upper Chesapeake Bay LTAR, University Park, Pennsylvania; The Gulf Atlantic Coastal Plain LTAR, Tifton, Georgia; The Upper Mississippi River Basin LTAR, Ames, IA; The Central Mississippi River Basin LTAR, Columbia, Missouri; and the R.J. Cook Agronomy Farm, Pullman, Washington). The remaining five sites are rangelands in the western US (The Northern Great Plains LTAR, Mandan, North Dakota; The Central Plains Experimental Range, Cheyenne, WY; The Southern Great Plains LTAR, El Reno, Oklahoma; The Jornada Experimental Range, Las Cruces, New Mexico; and the Walnut Gulch Experimental Watershed, Tucson, Arizona) (see http://www.ars.usda.gov/ltar for a map of the 10 LTAR sites). Through the LTAR Research Committee, representing senior leadership at each site, sites are currently developing a Shared Research Strategy, to identify the questions to be addressed, and data sto be collected, by the LTAR network as a whole. The objectives of this presentation will be: 1) to familiarize symposium participants with this new effort recently begun in the US; 2) provide background information on each of the 10 sites and on the network as a whole; 3) discuss ongoing efforts to synthesize existing common historical datasets across these 10 sites; 4) outline the current draft of the Shared Research Strategy; and 5) discuss existing and potential future collaborations between the LTAR network in the US and similar long-term research sites in France, Europe, and elsewhere.

Technical Abstract: As 2050 approaches, bringing with it the need to provide food, feed, fiber, and fuel sufficient to support a global population of 9 billion people, the question has become not how to sustain current levels of production over the long term, but rather how to sustainably intensify agricultural production, primarily on lands already under cultivation. Over the last 10 years, there have been frequent calls for the creation of a long-term agro-ecosystem research (LTAR) network to support research on agricultural sustainability at the watershed/landscape-scale. Such a network could provide the infrastructure needed to address the sustainable intensification of agricultural production at watershed, landscape, regional, and continental scales. Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service organized 10 of its best experimental watersheds, ranges, and research farms into an LTAR network. Network sites have historical databases that extend up to 100 years into the past, a history of collaborative research with a broad group of partners and stakeholders, and demonstrated productivity in terms of publishing both their research findings and making their data available to a wide variety of potential users. Five sites represent various cropland systems primarily in the eastern and central US (The Upper Chesapeake Bay LTAR, University Park, Pennsylvania; The Gulf Atlantic Coastal Plain LTAR, Tifton, Georgia; The Upper Mississippi River Basin LTAR, Ames, IA; The Central Mississippi River Basin LTAR, Columbia, Missouri; and the R.J. Cook Agronomy Farm, Pullman, Washington). The remaining five sites are focused on rangeland systems of the western US (The Northern Great Plains LTAR, Mandan, North Dakota; The Central Plains Experimental Range, Cheyenne, WY; The Southern Great Plains LTAR, El Reno, Oklahoma; The Jornada Experimental Range, Las Cruces, New Mexico; and the Walnut Gulch Experimental Watershed, Tucson, Arizona) (see http://www.ars.usda.gov/ltar for a map of the 10 LTAR sites). Through the LTAR Research Committee, representing senior leadership at each site, sites are currently developing a Shared Research Strategy, to identify the questions to be addressed, and the data sets to be collected, by the LTAR network as a whole. The objectives of this presentation will be: 1) to familiarize symposium participants with this new effort recently begun in the U.S.; 2) provide background information on each of the 10 sites and on the network as a whole; 3) discuss ongoing efforts to synthesize existing common historical datasets across these 10 sites; 4) outline the current draft of the Shared Research Strategy; and 5) discuss existing and potential future collaborations between the LTAR network in the US and similar long-term research sites in France, Europe, and elsewhere.