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ARS Home » Plains Area » Lubbock, Texas » Cropping Systems Research Laboratory » Wind Erosion and Water Conservation Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #369879

Research Project: Optimizing Water Use Efficiency for Environmentally Sustainable Agricultural Production Systems in Semi-Arid Regions

Location: Wind Erosion and Water Conservation Research

Title: Establishing an on-farm model to build soil health and productivity and sustain local food production systems in west texas

item EDWARDS, B - Texas Tech University
item WEINDORF, D - Texas Tech University
item DEB, S - Texas Tech University
item BAKR, N - Egypt National Research Center
item SLAUGHTER, L - Texas Tech University
item Acosta-Martinez, Veronica

Submitted to: ASA-CSSA-SSSA Annual Meeting Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/21/2019
Publication Date: 11/10/2019
Citation: Edwards, B., Weindorf, D.C., Deb, S.K., Bakr, N., Slaughter, L.C., Acosta Martinez, V. 2019. Establishing an on-farm model to build soil health and productivity and sustain local food production systems in west texas. ASA-CSSA-SSSA Annual Meeting Abstracts. 1.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Maintaining soil health for a sustainable livestock system requires the continued capacity of the soil to perform critical ecosystem services. These services include infiltration and water storage, development of soil physical structure and stability, and cycling and transformation of plant-available nutrients by microbial communities. Developing and maintaining soil health can be difficult in semi-arid food production regions such as the Southern High Plains (SHP) of Texas, which are commonly subjected to periods of drought and extreme weather events. In this study, initial data is presented from a long-term soil health monitoring effort to characterize the effects of regenerative farming practices in a producer-managed local food system on the total and spatial response of soil biological, chemical, and physical properties. We measured soil microbial biomass and community structure, soil texture, soil test nutrients, soil pH and EC, total C and N, and soil organic matter in two fields that were recently converted from continuous cotton to either 1) No-tilled dryland pasture with a diverse grass-forb mix, rotationally grazed by cattle and chickens (West system), or 2) Tilled, irrigated bermudagrass pasture grazed by cattle only (East system). The results indicated that tillage and irrigation reduced the abundance of soil microbial biomass by 37% and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi by 53% in the East system compared to the West system. We also found increased salinity in the East pasture (0.726 dS/m) compared to cattle and poultry grazing of diverse forage mixtures in the West pasture (0.442 dS/m). Measuring differences in soil microbial communities and other soil health indicators provide a framework to determine how management practices influence soil health with time.