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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Fayetteville, Arkansas » Poultry Production and Product Safety Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #404884

Research Project: Developing Best Management Practices for Poultry Litter to Improve Agronomic Value and Reduce Air, Soil and Water Pollution

Location: Poultry Production and Product Safety Research

Title: Framework to develop an open-source forage data network to improve primary productivity and enhancing system resiliency

item Ashworth, Amanda
item MARSHALL, LOGAN - University Of Texas At Arlington
item VOLENEC, JEFF - Purdue University
item CASLER, MIKE - Retired ARS Employee
item BERTI, MARISOL - North Dakota State University
item VAN SANTEN, EDZARD - University Of Florida
item WILLIAM, CAROL - University Of Wisconsin
item GOPAKUMAR, VINAYAK - The University Of Texas At Dallas
item FOSTER, JAMIE - Texas A&M Agrilife
item PROPST, TIM - Oklahoma State University
item PICASSO, VALENTIN - University Of Wisconsin
item JIANZHONG, SU - University Of Texas At Arlington

Submitted to: Agronomy Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/24/2023
Publication Date: 9/19/2023
Citation: Ashworth, A.J., Marshall, L., Volenec, J., Casler, M., Berti, M., Van Santen, E., William, C., Gopakumar, V., Foster, J., Propst, T., Picasso, V., Jianzhong, S. 2023. Framework to develop an open-source forage data network to improve primary productivity and enhancing system resiliency. Agronomy Journal. 115(6):3062-3073.

Interpretive Summary: Harnessing data sources to identify agricultural systems that are productive, stable, and resilient in the face of climate change, while promoting profitability, soil health, clean air and water, and biodiversity is key. Circular agriculture promotes economic, environmental, and social sustainability through practices and technologies that maximize resource efficiency, utility, and value over time, while fostering natural resource regeneration in agricultural production and across agricultural supply chains and avoiding environmental degradation. Perennial cropping systems promote pollinator habitat, soil and nutrient conservation, and accrual of soil carbon, all of which are needed to meet the projected 60% increases in sustainable food demands by 2050. Researchers set out to i) create a National forage database including data structuring, standardization, and compilation, and then ii) assess net and primary productivity, ecosystem service, and resiliency differences using the centralized forage database, or the Forage Data Hub. Resiliency analyses conducted on this Forage Data Hub suggest U.S. annual forage systems have the least resilience to low precipitation and have a greater dependence on receiving adequate precipitation. Conversely, perennial systems were able to maintain 93-112% of their expected productivity under low precipitation, suggesting deep rooted perennial systems with greater diversity are critical to sustainable food production, especially under historic and future stochastic climatic conditions. This work outlines steps and procedures for creating a tiered database, which can be used for developing management recommendations, outreach and data visualization, and database interrogation for ultimately identifying more resilient systems to achieve sustainable intensification.

Technical Abstract: Data repositories using legacy data are needed to minimize research redundancy, enable knowledge synthesis, and optimize productivity and resiliency of agricultural systems. However, a framework is needed to develop an online searchable database to identify optimum systems for sustainable agricultural intensification and diversification, particularly for forages. Therefore, this paper outlines the development of a community-driven forage database (Forage Data Hub) using legacy datasets encompassing multiple temporal and spatial scales and species to analyze system functional and resiliency. Specific steps outlined included: i) developing minimum and preferred data requirements; ii) data standardization, structuring, and compilation; iii) creating a data thesaurus, data shape, and data model; and iv) creating a web-based system interface to facilitate database access. We demonstrate utility of curating these diverse datasets by quantifying forage system resiliency during extreme weather occurrences (relationship between standardized yields and yields during years receiving 25th percentile of the 30-year normal precipitation) for three systems (monocrop annual, monocrop perennial, and mixed perennial) spanning 52,997 data entries (108 unique locations and 51 years). Overall, during low-precipitation years, monocrop annual systems achieved 67% of their expected yield, while monocrop perennial systems achieved 93% and mixed perennial systems achieved 112% of potential yields. Therefore, diverse perennial systems appeared more resilient to climate-related stresses when compared to annual forage systems. Development of the US Forage Data Hub underscores the benefits of community-driven data sharing and curation for a given commodity to provide systems-level sustainability assessments for identifying practices that promote ecological intensification and resiliency to climatic stochasticity.