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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Urbana, Illinois » Global Change and Photosynthesis Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #319660

Research Project: ECOLOGY, MANAGEMENT AND ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT OF WEEDY AND INVASIVE PLANT SPECIES IN A CHANGING CLIMATE

Location: Global Change and Photosynthesis Research

Title: Soil functional zone management: a vehicle for enhancing production and soil ecosystem services in row-crop agroecosystems

Author
item Williams, Alwyn - University Of Minnesota
item Kane, Daniel - Michigan State University
item Ewing, Patrick - University Of Minnesota
item Atwood, Lesley - University Of New Hampshire
item Jilling, Andrea - University Of New Hampshire
item Li, Meng - University Of Illinois
item Lou, Yi - University Of Illinois
item Davis, Adam
item Grandy, A Stuart - University Of New Hampshire
item Koide, Rogert - Brigham Young University
item Spokas, Kurt

Submitted to: Frontiers in Plant Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/14/2016
Publication Date: 2/5/2016
Citation: Williams, A., Kane, D., Ewing, P., Atwood, L., Jilling, A., Li, M., Lou, Y., Davis, A.S., Grandy, A., Koide, R.T., Spokas, K.A., et. al, 2016. Soil functional zone management: a vehicle for enhancing production and soil ecosystem services in row-crop agroecosystems. Frontiers in Plant Science. 7:65.

Interpretive Summary: Expanding the portion of the year during which harvestable crops are grown, a practice known as season extension, has potential to increase production and may improve soil services by increasing continuous living cover of soil. However, season extension may also threaten soil quality due to excessive soil disturbance and increased agrichemical application and irrigation needs. Developing production systems that enable sustainable season extension by enhancing both production and soil services is an important frontier in agronomy. Soil functional zone management (SFZM) is a novel strategy for developing such production systems. SFZM aims to create distinct functional zones within crop row and inter-row spaces. By managing soil environments at small spatial and temporal scales, SFZM attempts to foster greater soil biodiversity and integrate conflicting soil processes at the sub-field level. Such integration maximizes soil services by creating an ‘active turnover’ zone, optimized for crop growth and yield (provisioning services); and an adjacent ‘soil building’ zone, for soil structure development, carbon storage and moisture regulation (regulating and supporting services). Additionally, a number of other soil services may be enhanced by increases in soil biodiversity resulting from heterogeneity. Through the creation of functionally distinct zones, SFZM may provide a vehicle for achieving sustainable season extension that can increase both production and soil services from agriculture.

Technical Abstract: There is increasing demand for food, bioenergy feedstocks and a wide variety of bio-based products. In response, agriculture has made great gains in production, but is increasingly depleting soil regulating and supporting ecosystem services. New production systems have emerged, such as Conservation Agriculture, that can enhance soil services but may have limited potential due to trade-offs with yield. Future agriculture must reduce trade-offs between production and soil services. Temporal intensification (TI) of agriculture – expanding the portion of the year during which harvestable crops are grown – has potential to increase production and may improve soil services by increasing continuous living cover of soil. However, TI may also reduce soil services, from excessive soil disturbance and increased agrichemical application and irrigation needs. Developing production systems that enable sustainable TI by enhancing both production and soil services is an important frontier in agronomy. Soil functional zone management (SFZM) is a novel strategy for developing such production systems. SFZM aims to create distinct functional zones within crop row and inter-row spaces. By incorporating decimetre-scale spatial and temporal heterogeneity, SFZM attempts to foster greater soil biodiversity and integrate conflicting soil processes at the sub-field level. Such integration maximizes soil services by creating an ‘active turnover’ zone, optimized for crop growth and yield (provisioning services); and an adjacent ‘soil building’ zone, for soil structure development, carbon storage and moisture regulation (regulating and supporting services). Additionally, a number of other soil services may be enhanced by increases in soil biodiversity resulting from heterogeneity. Through the creation of functionally distinct zones, SFZM may provide a vehicle for achieving sustainable TI that can increase both production and soil services from agriculture.