Skip to main content
ARS Home » Plains Area » Mandan, North Dakota » Northern Great Plains Research Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #323863

Title: Crop diversity effects on soil health

item Liebig, Mark

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/23/2016
Publication Date: 1/6/2016
Citation: Liebig, M.A. 2016. Crop diversity effects on soil health. p. 10-14. IN: D. Busch et al. (Eds.) 38th Annual zero till workshop and tradeshow: Better yields through better soil. Proc. Manitoba North Dakota Zero Tillage Farmers Assoc. Jan. 6-7, 2016, Minot, ND. Meeting Abstract.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Concurrent demands for abundant, healthy food, thriving rural economies, and an unpolluted physical environment represents a significant agricultural challenge in the 21st century. Trends in human population growth and changing weather patterns will make this challenge exceedingly difficult. Soil management is at the nexus of this challenge through its known influence on agricultural productivity, farm/ranch profitability, and ecosystem health. By affecting the retention and delivery of plant nutrients, regulating element and hydrologic cycles, and providing physical support for plants, soil management serves as a foundational influence on agricultural sustainability. Among the numerous management decisions under direct producer control, crop rotation arguably represents the most significant with regard to long-term economic and environmental outcomes. In the context of outcomes related to soil health, crop rotation effects are manifested through alterations in soil structure, soil-water properties, and nutrient retention and availability. This presentation will review crop rotation effects on three key soil functions: nutrient cycling, water uptake/retention, and atmospheric regulation. Soil health outcomes to various cropping practices will draw upon examples from long-term research and on-farm trials in the U.S. Great Plains, a region that has recently undergone an unprecedented transition in agricultural land use.