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ARS Home » Plains Area » Fort Collins, Colorado » Center for Agricultural Resources Research » Soil Management and Sugarbeet Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #388780

Research Project: Management Practices for Long Term Productivity of Great Plains Agriculture

Location: Soil Management and Sugarbeet Research

Title: Soil carbon and agroecosystem benefits of conservation management and perennial bioenergy crop production

item Stewart, Catherine
item Miner, Grace
item Jin, Virginia
item Schmer, Marty
item WILLIAMS, CANDISS - Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS, USDA)
item Mitchell, Robert - Rob

Submitted to: Proceedings of Great Plains Soil Fertility Conference
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/3/2022
Publication Date: 3/8/2022
Citation: Stewart, C.E., Miner, G.S., Jin, V.L., Schmer, M.R., Williams, C., Mitchell, R. 2022. Soil carbon and agroecosystem benefits of conservation management and perennial bioenergy crop production. Proceedings of Great Plains Soil Fertility Conference. 19:18-23.

Interpretive Summary: N/A

Technical Abstract: Conservation agricultural management practices and perennial bioenergy crops can increase soil organic C (SOC) stocks on marginal soils yet the time necessary to observe these benefits, as well as the upper limit of C storage isn’t known. Co-benefits often associated with SOC accumulation are positive effects on water and nutrient retention, soil microbial biomass and diversity and soil structure, resulting in better soil quality. However, interactions between nitrogen fertilizer, crop biochemistry, and harvest practices can affect root production distribution, and decomposition and the rate and turnover of SOC. We measured a variety of soil properties and soil quality indicators including SOC, aggregate stability, SMB-C, bulk density (BD), pH, extractable-P and K during a 16-year bioenergy study. N fertilizer (0, 60, 120, and 180 kg N ha-1) and harvest management on switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L., harvested at Aug. and post-frost) and no-tilled corn (NT-C, Zea mays L., with and without 50% stover removal)) established on a marginal soil in the western U.S. Corn Belt. We present changes in soil properties 16 years into this long-term experiment. Our results suggest that perennial systems need long-term measurements to accurately quantify bioenergy impacts on the soil resource and in contrast to model predictions, soil C accrual and soil quality benefits persist for decades post land-use conversion.