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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 #393632

Research Project: Developing Strategies for Resilient and Sustainable Crop, Water, and Soil Management in Semi-Arid Environments

Location: Wind Erosion and Water Conservation Research

Title: Influence of legume inclusion on greenhouse gas emissions from pasture systems in the southern high plains of Texas

item ARORA, RAAVI - Texas Tech University
item SLAUGHTER, LINDSEY - Texas Tech University
item WEST, CHARLES - Texas Tech University
item DEB, SANJIT - Texas Tech University
item Acosta-Martinez, Veronica

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/18/2022
Publication Date: 4/18/2022
Citation: Arora, R., Slaughter, L.C., West, C.P., Deb, S.K., Acosta Martinez, V. 2022. Influence of legume inclusion on greenhouse gas emissions from pasture systems in the southern high plains of Texas. SPSS Student Research Symposium.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Semi-arid ecosystems, such as the Southern High Plains (SHP) of Texas, hold enormous potential for providing a variety of ecosystem services such as agricultural production, nutrient and water cycling, and extreme weather mitigation. Although these systems cover over thirty percent of the arable land area in North America, agricultural productivity is severely limited by water scarcity and degraded soils. The Ogallala Aquifer, which is the main source of irrigation in the SHP, is at a risk of extinction due to over-extraction and pollution, forcing the growers to switch from row crops to less soil disturbing and more water efficient perennial forages and livestock. Some studies have shown that incorporation of legume plants to these perennial grasses can potentially reduce methane emissions from the soil and nurture healthier livestock in addition to minimizing the need for external inputs. The information regarding the influence of these soil improving practices on soil greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is currently lacking. Our objective is to quantify and comprehend the role of legume (alfalfa, Medicago sativa L.) presence and density on soil GHG flux in established long-term pastures (WW-B.Dhal Old World bluestem) as compared to N-fertilized monoculture pastures. Soil GHG samples (CO2, CH4, N2O) were collected using static chamber method on a monthly basis (fall to spring), and on a bi-weekly basis (late spring to early fall) to see the greenhouse gas flux throughout the year. Microbial community structure, nitrate and ammonia in the soil will also be analysed. The results of our study will help producers make management decisions to increase profitability and reduce climate impacts with more efficient use of resources, as well as allow us to prepare a model that builds healthy and productive soils in regions facing water and nutrient scarcity.