Source: AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH SERVICE submitted to
MANAGING MICROBIAL PROCESSES OF SOIL SUBSIDENCE IN HISTOSOLS FOR SUSTAINABLE SUGARCANE YIELD
Sponsoring Institution
Agricultural Research Service/USDA
Project Status
TERMINATED
Funding Source
Reporting Frequency
Annual
Accession No.
0405603
Grant No.
(N/A)
Project No.
6625-12130-001-00D
Proposal No.
(N/A)
Multistate No.
(N/A)
Program Code
(N/A)
Project Start Date
Jun 30, 2002
Project End Date
Sep 22, 2006
Grant Year
(N/A)
Project Director
MORRIS D R
Recipient Organization
AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH SERVICE
(N/A)
CANAL POINT,FL 33438
Performing Department
(N/A)
Non Technical Summary
(N/A)
Animal Health Component
20%
Research Effort Categories
Basic
80%
Applied
20%
Developmental
0%
Classification

Knowledge Area (KA)Subject of Investigation (SOI)Field of Science (FOS)Percent
1022020101031%
1040110106033%
1040210206118%
1040320206118%
Goals / Objectives
The objectives are: 1) determine factors and processes affecting soil organic matter oxidation potential; 2) develop water management treatments that reduce oxidation of organic soils while maintaining crop yields; 3) determine carbon inputs and losses for organic soils under different cropping systems and water management regimes; 4) develop treatments to reduce P levels in soil solution while maintaining crop yields. Expand studies of microbial activity in organic soils and sugarcane root systems under varying water tables in commercial fields, while evaluating the effect of root distribution on lodging and mechanical harvest.
Project Methods
Since soil subsidence is primarily a result of organic matter oxidation, which leads to release of nutrients such as CO2 and P, and sugarcane is the predominant crop grown in the Everglades Agricultural Area, this project will deal with characterizing those microbial processes related to water table and tillage management of sugarcane, determine how sugarcane is influencing the C balance in Histisols, investigate P mineralization to determine if management practices can reduce soil P levels and characterize sugarcane yields under evolving water and tillage management scenarios. Also since there are few methods that can be used to monitor soil organic matter oxidation in sugarcane fields on an annual basis, experiments to evaluate better methods to monitor oxidation using C isotopes are planned. Research will be conducted in the laboratory, greenhouse, lysimeters, and field to provide a complete understanding of soil organic matter oxidation, P mineralization, and C cycling.

Progress 06/30/02 to 09/22/06

Outputs
Progress Report 1. What major problem or issue is being resolved and how are you resolving it (summarize project aims and objectives)? How serious is the problem? Why does it matter? The organic soils of the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) are subsiding due mostly to microbial degradation. During the degradation process, nutrients such as carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus are released from the organic matter. The loss of carbon causes reduced soil depth due to organic matter loss. The release of phosphorus and nitrogen in the soil causes enrichment of water that can change the natural ecology of the region. The best way to reduce organic matter loss and nutrient release is by raising the water table. However, raising water tables reduces yields of many crops. This project addresses the problems listed above with the goal of contributing to a viable agriculture in the EAA without causing environmental damage. The specific objectives of this project are to: 1) determine factors and processes affecting soil organic matter degradation; 2) develop water management treatments that reduce degradation of organic soils while maintaining crop yields; 3) determine the quantity of organic matter inputs and losses in EAA soils under different cropping systems and water management regimes; 4) develop treatments to reduce phosphorus levels in soil solution while maintaining crop yields; 5) expand studies of microbial activity in organic soils and sugarcane root systems under varying water tables in commercial fields, while evaluating the effect of root distribution on lodging and mechanical harvest. The approach is to use laboratory, growth chamber, lysimeter, and field experiments in order to better understand soil organic matter degradation processes in agricultural production systems of the EAA. The research undertaken falls under the National Program 202, Nutrient Management Component, Program Area 4 - Management Effects on Carbon-Related Processes and Soil Response, Goals 1 -Identify and develop management practices that maintain or increase organic matter in soil, and 3 - Develop management practices that provide sufficient nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulfur to meet plant needs and that allow for the accumulation of organic matter. In addition, the Federal Task Force for the Restoration of the South Florida Ecosystem, the Governors Commission for Sustainable South Florida, and the Florida Sugar Cane League have identified these research goals as high priority for managing Everglades resources. Agriculture in the EAA contributes over a billion dollars to the US economy. But, the land is currently losing soil at a rate of about 0.5 inches per year due to organic matter degradation. In addition, producers are paying a land use privilege tax of $25 per acre to the state of Florida to compensate for expenses to reduce phosphorus enrichment. If soil degradation continues, the EAA will become less productive in producing sugar and other crops grown in the region. Since South Florida produces about 25% of the sugar in the US as well as many winter vegetables and turf, the loss of the productive natural resource (organic soil) could directly impact American consumers by increasing the cost of agricultural products. 2. List by year the currently approved milestones (indicators of research progress) Year 1 (FY 2002) 1. Start enzyme kinetics study for C14 soil oxidation potential. 2. Start temperature effects study on C14 soil oxidation potential. 3. Start moisture effects study on C14 soil oxidation potential. 4. Start soil slurry effects study on C14 soil oxidation potential. 5. Start lysimeter study on C14 soil oxidation potential. Year 2 (FY 2003) 1. Finish enzyme kinetics study for C14 soil oxidation potential. 2. Finish temperature effects study on C14 soil oxidation potential. 3. Finish moisture effects study on C14 soil oxidation potential. 4. Finish soil slurry effects study on C14 soil oxidation potential. 5. Start C13 method evaluation for oxidation potential in soil. 6. Continue lysimeter study on C14 soil oxidation potential. 7. Start tillage effect study on C14 soil oxidation potential. Year 3 (FY 2004) 1. Start soil type effect study on C14 soil oxidation potential. 2. Finish C13 method evaluation for oxidation potential in soil. 3. Start growth chamber water table study for C14 soil oxidation potential. 4. Finish lysimeter study on C14 soil oxidation potential. 5. Start field study on water table effect on C14 soil oxidation potential. 6. Continue tillage effect on C14 soil oxidation potential. 7. Start crop rotation study for effect on C14 soil oxidation potential. Year 4 (2005) 1. Finish soil type effect study on C14 soil oxidation potential. 2. Start crop species effect study on C14 soil oxidation potential. 3. Finish growth chamber water table study for C14 soil oxidation potential. 4. Continue field study on water table effect on C14 soil oxidation potential. 5. Finish study on tillage effect on C14 soil oxidation potential. 6. Continue crop rotation study for effect on C14 soil oxidation potential. Year 5 (2006) 1. Finish study on crop species effect on C14 soil oxidation potential. 2. Finish field study on water table effect on C14 soil oxidation potential. 3. Finish crop rotation study for effect on C14 soil oxidation potential. 4a List the single most significant research accomplishment during FY 2006. Silicon Fertilization improves cold tolerance of sugarcane Applying silicon fertilizer to sugarcane improved its cold tolerance, and the cold tolerance was best expressed in a sandy soil compared with a muck soil. Sugarcane growing in south Florida often suffers from cold injury, which reduces yields. A greenhouse experiment was conducted for a year in cooperation with the plant breeding project at Canal Point. These results will be useful to producers, extension agents, and scientists, because now they know that applying silicon fertilizer can reduce cold injury in sugarcane and that sugarcane growing on organic soils is more susceptible to cold damage than sugarcane growing on sandy soils. 5. Describe the major accomplishments to date and their predicted or actual impact. Organic soils in the Everglades are losing depth due to microbial activity. Raising water tables reduces microbial activity and soil loss. It was found that water tables at 6 inches below the soil surface and floods up to three inches above the soil surface provided similar control of microbial activity. Consequently, farmers may not have to flood soils to prevent soil loss. Minimizing tillage of organic soils may further reduce organic matter losses due to reduced microbial activity. Sugarcane cultivars have inefficient carbohydrate storage at water-table depths of less than 12 inches. Furthermore, sugarcane adaptation to water-table depths of less than 12 inches include increased root mass and length and reduced root diameter near the soil surface. Neither foliar testing of sugarcane nor soil testing were accurate indicators of available phosphorus in organic soil. Finally, the C14 method to determine organic matter oxidation potential is best for either drained or flooded organic soils compared to carbon dioxide evolution, microbial biomass carbon, and microbial biomass nitrogen. The customer are farmers, extensionists, and scientists 6. What science and/or technologies have been transferred and to whom? When is the science and/or technology likely to become available to the end- user (industry, farmer, other scientists)? What are the constraints, if known, to the adoption and durability of the technology products? 1. Silicon fertilizer reduces cold injury in sugarcane. This information was presented to farmers, extensionists, and scientists. 2. Sugarcane growing in organic soil is more susceptible to cold injury than sugarcane growing in sandy soil. This information was presented to farmers, extensionists, and scientists. 3. Nitrogen fertilizer does not prevent decline in yield of sugarcane growing in organic soils. This information was presented to farmers, extensionists, and scientists. 7. List your most important publications in the popular press and presentations to organizations and articles written about your work. (NOTE: List your peer reviewed publications below). Morris, D.R. presented Organic Soil Subsidence in Florida to high school students at Moore Haven High School, Moore Haven, FL. Mar. 15, 2006. Morris, D.R. presented Organic Matter Oxidation Potential of Histosols Due to Water Table Depth and Tillage to farmers, extensionists, and scientists at Everglades Research and Education Center, University of Florida , First Friday Seminar Series. Belle Glade, FL. Apr. 7, 2005. Morris, D.R. presented Soil Research Project at Canal Point, FL to sugarcane growers at Everglades Research and Education Center, University of Florida , Belle Glade, FL. Sep. 28, 2005. Morris, D.R. presented Effect of Fertilizer N on Sugarcane Yield Decline to farmers, extensionists, and scientists at USDA, ARS, Sugarcane Field Station, Field Day. Canal Point, FL. Dec. 16, 2005. Morris, D.R. presented Managing Microbial Process of Soil Subsidence Without Reducing Sugarcane Yields to scientist at GRACEnet (Greenhouse Gas Reduction through Agricultural Carbon Enhancement network) meeting. Ft. Collins, CO. Oct. 4, 2005. Morris, D.R. presented Effect of Fertilizer Si on cold tolerance of sugarcane to farmers, extensionists, and scientists at Sandland Sugarane Seminar, Southwest Florida Research and Education Center, University of Florida, Immokalee, FL. May 12, 2006. Morris, D.R. presented Fertilizer N as a Factor to Prevent Sugarcane Yield Decline in Organic Soil the International Society of Sugarcane Technologist Agronomy Workshop. Bangkok, Thailand. May 24, 2006. Morris, D.R. presented Silicon Fertilizer Effect on Electrolyte Leakage From Sugarcane Leaf Cells After Exposure to Freezing Temperatures to farmers, extensionists, and scientists at the Annual Joint Meeting of American Society of Sugarcane Technologists. St. Petersburg, Fl. June 16, 2006.

Impacts
(N/A)

Publications

  • Morris, D.R., Perdomo, R., Powell, G., Montes, G. 2006. Fertilizer N as a factor to prevent sugarcane yield decline in organic soil[abstract}. International Society of Sugar Cane Technologists Proceedings. p. 9.
  • Gilbert, R.A., Morris, D.R., Perdomo, R.E., Powell, G., Eiland, B., Rainbolt, C. 2006. Comparison of nutrient sources of mineral soil nutrition in Florida sugarcane [abstract]. International Society of Sugarcane Technologist Agronomy Workshop. p. 25.
  • Gilbert, R.A., Rainbolt, C.R., Morris, D.R. 2006. Silicon fertilizer effects on electrolyte leakage from sugarcane leaf cells after exposure to freezing temperatures[abstract] American Society of Sugar Cane Technologists 26:47.
  • Morris, D.R., Tai, P. 2006. Silicon Fertilizer Effects on Electrolyte Leakage from Sugarcane Leaf Cells after Exposure to Freezing Temperatures. American Society of Sugar Cane Technologists 26:53


Progress 10/01/04 to 09/30/05

Outputs
1. What major problem or issue is being resolved and how are you resolving it (summarize project aims and objectives)? How serious is the problem? What does it matter? The organic soils of the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) are subsiding due mostly to microbial degradation. During the degradation process, nutrients such as carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus are released from the organic matter. The loss of carbon causes reduced soil depth due to organic matter loss. The release of phosphorus and nitrogen in the soil causes enrichment of water that can change the natural ecology of the region. The best way to reduce organic matter loss and nutrient release is by raising the water table. However, raising water tables reduces yields of many crops. This project addresses the problems listed above with the goal of contributing to a viable agriculture in the EAA without causing environmental damage. The specific objectives of this project are to: 1) determine factors and processes affecting soil organic matter degradation; 2) develop water management treatments that reduce degradation of organic soils while maintaining crop yields; 3) determine the quantity of organic matter inputs and losses in EAA soils under different cropping systems and water management regimes; 4) develop treatments to reduce phosphorus levels in soil solution while maintaining crop yields; 5) expand studies of microbial activity in organic soils and sugarcane root systems under varying water tables in commercial fields, while evaluating the effect of root distribution on lodging and mechanical harvest. The approach is to use laboratory, growth chamber, lysimeter, and field experiments in order to better understand soil organic matter degradation processes in agricultural production systems of the EAA. The research undertaken falls under the National Program 202, Nutrient Management Component, Program Area 4 - Management Effects on Carbon-Related Processes and Soil Response, Goals 1 -Identify and develop management practices that maintain or increase organic matter in soil, and 3 - Develop management practices that provide sufficient nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulfur to meet plant needs and that allow for the accumulation of organic matter. In addition, the Federal Task Force for the Restoration of the South Florida Ecosystem, the Governors Commission for Sustainable South Florida, and the Florida Sugar Cane League have identified these research goals as high priority for managing Everglades resources. Agriculture in the EAA contributes over a billion dollars to the US economy. But, the land is currently losing soil at a rate of about 0.5 inches per year due to organic matter degradation. In addition, producers are paying a land use privilege tax of $25 per acre to the state of Florida to compensate for expenses to reduce phosphorus enrichment. If soil degradation continues, the EAA will become less productive in producing sugar and other crops grown in the region. Since South Florida produces about 25% of the sugar in the US as well as many winter vegetables and turf, the loss of the productive natural resource (organic soil) could directly impact American consumers by increasing the cost of agricultural products. 2. List the milestones (indicators of progress) from your Project Plan. Year 1 (FY 2002) 1. Start enzyme kinetics study for C14 soil oxidation potential. 2. Start temperature effects study on C14 soil oxidation potential. 3. Start moisture effects study on C14 soil oxidation potential. 4. Start soil slurry effects study on C14 soil oxidation potential. 5. Start lysimeter study on C14 soil oxidation potential. Year 2 (FY 2003) 1. Finish enzyme kinetics study for C14 soil oxidation potential. 2. Finish temperature effects study on C14 soil oxidation potential. 3. Finish moisture effects study on C14 soil oxidation potential. 4. Finish soil slurry effects study on C14 soil oxidation potential. 5. Start C13 method evaluation for oxidation potential in soil. 6. Continue lysimeter study on C14 soil oxidation potential. 7. Start tillage effect study on C14 soil oxidation potential. Year 3 (FY 2004) 1. Start soil type effect study on C14 soil oxidation potential. 2. Finish C13 method evaluation for oxidation potential in soil. 3. Start growth chamber water table study for C14 soil oxidation potential. 4. Finish lysimeter study on C14 soil oxidation potential. 5. Start field study on water table effect on C14 soil oxidation potential. 6. Continue tillage effect on C14 soil oxidation potential. 7. Start crop rotation study for effect on C14 soil oxidation potential. Year 4 (2005) 1. Finish soil type effect study on C14 soil oxidation potential. 2. Start crop species effect study on C14 soil oxidation potential. 3. Finish growth chamber water table study for C14 soil oxidation potential. 4. Continue field study on water table effect on C14 soil oxidation potential. 5. Finish study on tillage effect on C14 soil oxidation potential. 6. Continue crop rotation study for effect on C14 soil oxidation potential. Year 5 (2006) 1. Finish study on crop species effect on C14 soil oxidation potential. 2. Finish field study on water table effect on C14 soil oxidation potential. 3. Finish crop rotation study for effect on C14 soil oxidation potential. 3a List the milestones that were scheduled to be addressed in FY 2005. For each milestone, indicate the status: fully met, substantially met, or not met. If not met, why. 1. Finish soil type effect on C14 soil oxidation potential. Milestone Fully Met 2. Start crop species effect study on C14 soil oxidation potential. Milestone Fully Met 3. Start growth chamber water table study for C14 soil oxidation potential. Milestone Substantially Met 4. Continue field study on water-table effects on C14 soil oxidation potential. Milestone Substantially Met 5. Finish tillage effect on C14 soil oxidation potential. Milestone Fully Met 6. Continue crop rotation field study for effect on C14 soil oxidation potential. Milestone Substantially Met 3b List the milestones that you expect to address over the next 3 years (FY 2006, 2007, and 2008). What do you expect to accomplish, year by year, over the next 3 years under each milestone? Year 5 (2006) 1. Complete study on crop species effect on C14 soil oxidation potential. 2. Complete field study on water table effect on C14 soil oxidation potential. 3. Complete crop rotation study for effect on C14 soil oxidation potential. 4a What was the single most significant accomplishment this past year? Foliar phosphorus tests for sugarcane in organic soils Contrary to findings in mineral soils, it was found that foliar diagnosis of leaf phosphorus were not reliable indicators of the need to apply fertilizer phosphorus to sugarcane growing on Florida Everglades organic soils. This finding was important because due to efforts to restore the Florida Everglades, Florida sugarcane growers are seeking ways to reduce phosphorus export from drainage water from their farms. A field study that examined soil phosphorus fertilizer recommendations based on leaf phosphorus during the summer was conducted at four sites using several fertilizer phosphorus rates. These results will be useful to producers, extension agents, and scientists, because now they know about constraints of basing phosphorus fertilizer applications on foliar analyses and that new methods to monitor phosphorus nutrition of sugarcane are needed. 4b List other significant accomplishments, if any. Soil test for sugarcane in organic soil Soil testing to make fertilizer phosphorus recommendation for sugarcane in organic soil was not accurate. This discovery was important because producers often follow soil test recommendation to make fertilizer phosphorus applications. A field study was conducted at four sites using several fertilizer phosphorus rates to determine sugarcane yields. These results provide producers, extension agents, and scientist with information that currently used methods of soil testing for extractable phosphorus in the soil are not accurate indicators of plant available phosphorus and that better methods to monitor plant available phosphorus are needed. 5. Describe the major accomplishments over the life of the project, including their predicted or actual impact. Organic soils in the Everglades are losing depth due to microbial activity. Raising water tables reduces microbial activity and soil loss. However, it has been found that raising water tables to 6 inches below the soil surface was similar to flooding to three inches above the soil surface. Consequently, farmers may not have to flood soils to prevent soil loss. Minimizing tillage of organic soils may further reduce organic matter losses due to reduced microbial activity. Sugarcane cultivars have inefficient carbohydrate storage at water tables less than 12 inches. Furthermore, sugarcane adaptation to water tables less than 12 inches include increased root mass and length and reduced root diameter near the soil surface. Neither foliar testing of sugarcane nor soil testing were accurate indicators of available phosphorus in organic soil. Finally, the C14 method to determine organic matter oxidation potential is best for either drained or flooded organic soils compared to carbon dioxide evolution, microbial biomass carbon, and microbial biomass nitrogen 6. What science and/or technologies have been transferred and to whom? When is the science and/or technology likely to become available to the end- user (industry, farmer, other scientists)? What are the constraints, if known, to the adoption and durability of the technology products? 1. Foliar diagnosis of phosphorus in sugarcane in organic soil is accurate only 25% of the time. 2. Soil testing for plant available phosphorus for sugarcane in organic soil is accurate only 50% of the time. 7. List your most important publications in the popular press and presentations to organizations and articles written about your work. (NOTE: List your peer reviewed publications below). Morris, D.R. presented Soil Research Project at Canal Point, FL to sugarcane growers at Everglades Research and Education Center, University of Florida, Belle Glade, FL. Sep. 13, 2004. Morris, D.R. presented Changes in Sugarcane Yield and Morphology in Response to Flooding to farmers, extensionists, and scientists at Everglades Research and Education Center, University of Florida, Field Day. Belle Glade, FL. Apr. 7, 2005. Morris, D.R. presented Potential of Sugarcane for Restoring Everglades Soils at Annual Joint Meeting of American Society of Sugarcane Technologists. Panama City, FL. to farmers, extensionists, and scientists. June 23, 2005.

Impacts
(N/A)

Publications

  • Morris, D.R., Lathwell, D.J. 2004. Anaerobically digested dairy manure as fertilizer for maize in acid and alkaline soils. Communications in Soil Science and Plant Analysis. Vol. 35, pges 1757-1771.
  • Morris, D.R., Glaz, B.S., Daroub, S. 2004. Organic soil oxidation potential due to periodic flood and drainage depth under sugarcane. Soil Science. 169: P. 600-608.
  • Morris, D.R. 2005. Potential of sugarcane for restoring everglades soils. Sugar J. 68(1):17.


Progress 10/01/03 to 09/30/04

Outputs
1. What major problem or issue is being resolved and how are you resolving it (summarize project aims and objectives)? How serious is the problem? What does it matter? The organic soils of the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) are subsiding due mostly to microbial degradation. During the degradation process, nutrients such as carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus are released from the organic matter. The loss of carbon causes reduced soil depth due to organic matter loss. The release of phosphorus and nitrogen in the soil causes enrichment of water that can change the natural ecology of the region. The best way to reduce organic matter loss and nutrient release is by raising the water table. However, raising water tables reduces crop yields. This project addresses the problems listed above with the goal of contributing to a viable agriculture in the EAA without causing environmental damage. The specific objectives of this project are to: 1) determine factors and processes affecting soil organic matter degradation; 2) develop water management treatments that reduce degradation of organic soils while maintaining crop yields; 3) determine the quantity of organic matter inputs and losses in EAA soils under different cropping systems and water management regimes; 4) develop treatments to reduce phosphorus levels in soil solution while maintaining crop yields; 5) expand studies of microbial activity in organic soils and sugarcane root systems under varying water tables in commercial fields, while evaluating the effect of root distribution on lodging and mechanical harvest. The approach is to use laboratory, growth chamber, lysimeter, and field experiments in order to better understand soil organic matter degradation processes in agricultural production systems of the EAA. The research undertaken falls under the National Program 202, Nutrient Management Component, Program Area 4 - Management Effects on Carbon- Related Processes and Soil Response, Goals 1 -Identify and develop management practices that maintain or increase organic matter in soil, and 3 - Develop management practices that provide sufficient nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulfur to meet plant needs and that allow for the accumulation of organic matter. In addition, the Federal Task Force for the Restoration of the South Florida Ecosystem, the Governors Commission for Sustainable South Florida, and the Florida Sugar Cane League have identified these research goals as high priority for managing Everglades resources. Agriculture in the EAA contributes over a billion dollars to the US economy. But, the land is currently losing soil at a rate of about 12 inch per year due to organic matter degradation. In addition, producers are paying a land use privilege tax of $25/acre to the state of Florida to compensate for reduction of phosphorus. If soil degradation continues, the EAA will become less productive in producing sugar and other crops grown in the region. Since South Florida produces about 25% of the sugar produced in the US as well as many winter vegetables and turf, the loss of this productive natural resource (organic soil) could directly impact American consumers by increasing the cost of agricultural products. 2. List the milestones (indicators of progress) from your Project Plan. Year 1 (FY 2002) Start enzyme kinetics study for C14 soil oxidation potential. Start temperature effects study on C14 soil oxidation potential. Start moisture effects study on C14 soil oxidation potential. Start soil slurry effects study on C14 soil oxidation potential. Start lysimeter study on C14 soil oxidation potential. Year 2 (FY 2003) Finish enzyme kinetics study for C14 soil oxidation potential. Finish temperature effects study on C14 soil oxidation potential. Finish moisture effects study on C14 soil oxidation potential. Finish soil slurry effects study on C14 soil oxidation potential. Start C13 method evaluation for oxidation potential in soil. Continue lysimeter study on C14 soil oxidation potential. Start tillage effect study on C14 soil oxidation potential. Year 3 (FY 2004) Start soil type effect study on C14 soil oxidation potential. Finish C13 method evaluation for oxidation potential in soil. Start growth chamber water table study for C14 soil oxidation potential. Finish lysimeter study on C14 soil oxidation potential. Start field study on water table effect on C14 soil oxidation potential. Continue tillage effect on C14 soil oxidation potential. Start crop rotation study for effect on C14 soil oxidation potential. Year 4 (2005) Finish soil type effect study on C14 soil oxidation potential. Start crop species effect study on C14 soil oxidation potential. Finish growth chamber water table study for C14 soil oxidation potential. Continue field study on water table effect on C14 soil oxidation potential. Finish study on tillage effect on C14 soil oxidation potential. Continue crop rotation study for effect on C14 soil oxidation potential. Year 5 (2006) Finish study on crop species effect on C14 soil oxidation potential. Finish field study on water table effect on C14 soil oxidation potential. Finish crop rotation study for effect on C14 soil oxidation potential. 3. Milestones: Start soil type effect on C14 soil oxidation potential. This has been met. Finish C13 method evaluation for oxidation in soil. This study has been started, but can not be completed until the purchase of a mass spectrometer can be finalized or an analytical lab that is not too expensive for the project budget can be located. It may be next year before this study can be completed. Start growth chamber water table study for C14 soil oxidation potential. A growth chamber was not available so two studies were conducted in pots outside at different water table depths. These studies meet the objective of this milestone. Finish lysimeter study on C14 soil oxidation potential. This has been met. Start field study on water table effects on C14 soil oxidation potential. This study was supposed to be conducted with Dr. Milligan at US Sugar Corp. Since Dr. Milligan is leaving US Sugar, another field study has been started to meet the objectives of this milestone with Dr. Robert Gilbert at Univ. of Florida, Belle Glade, to study the influence of water table depth on two sugarcane varieties over the entire year. Continue tillage effect on C14 soil oxidation potential. This has been met. Start crop rotation field study for effect on C14 soil oxidation potential. This study was supposed to be conducted with Dr. Ron Rice at the Univ. of Florida, Belle Glade. He has left his position so another field study has been initiated with Dr. Robert Gilbert (Univ. Florida, Belle Glade) and Dr. Raul Perdomo (Okeelanta Sugar Corp.) to meet the objectives of this milestone. This study involves rotation of soybean cover crop with sugarcane in combination with filter mud (by-product of sugarcane milling) to increase carbon sequestration and sugarcane yields. The Year 4 (2005) and 5 (2006) milestones are listed below with a description of the anticipated outcomes. The entire project is scheduled to be completed in Year 5 and a new project will be developed to undergo OSQR review, and subsequent implementation beginning in Year 6 (2007). Year 4 (2005) Finish soil type effect on C14 soil oxidation potential. It is anticipated that soil types with the highest potential for oxidation can be identified by looking at their inorganic chemical properties. Start crop species effect on C14 soil oxidation potential. This milestone should be met. It is anticipated that crop species that result in greater organic matter oxidation will be identified. Finish growth chamber water table study for C14 soil oxidation potential. It is anticipated that the optimum water table level for reduced soil oxidation potential and high sugarcane yield can be identified. Continue field study on water table effect on C14 soil oxidation potential. This milestone should be met. It is anticipated that the influence of water table and environmental factors over the entire sugarcane growing season on soil organic matter oxidation potential will be known. Finish tillage effect on C14 soil oxidation potential. The influence of tillage depth on soil organic matter oxidation potential in Histosols will be known. Continue crop rotation study for effect on C14 soil oxidation potential. It is anticipated that the best cover crop rotation with sugarcane in combination with filter mud for increased carbon sequestration and sugarcane yields will be identified. Year 5 (2006) Finish crop species effect on C14 soil oxidation potential. Crop species that result in greater organic matter oxidation will be identified. Finish field study on water table effect on C14 soil oxidation potential. The influence of water table and environmental factors over the entire sugarcane growing season on soil organic matter oxidation potential will be known. Finish crop rotation study for effect on C14 soil oxidation potential. The best cover crop rotation with sugarcane for reduced carbon loss and increased sugarcane yield will be known. Assuming the subsequent project plan continues the research along its present course, the following milestones are anticipated. Year 6 (2007) Write new project. Start experiments comparing use of C14 (radioisotope) and C13 (stable isotope) for use in tracking soil organic matter oxidation. It is anticipated the C13 method will be better than C14 in determining organic matter oxidation potential under sugarcane. Start field studies to confirm water table results from lysimeters in previous project. It is anticipated the results from the lysimeters studies will be more acceptable by producers if they are confirmed under actual growing conditions in the field. 4. What were the most significant accomplishments this past year? A. A method that uses radiocarbon isotopes provided the best indicator of organic matter losses due to microbial activity. This discovery was important because it is necessary to develop improved methods to understand the immediate effects of treatments on microbial activity to control soil loss in organic soils. A lysimeter study with sugarcane compared effects of water-table treatments on potential soil loss due to microbial activity using radiocarbon isotope, carbon dioxide evolution, microbial biomass carbon, and microbial biomass nitrogen methods. These results will enable researchers to analyze greater numbers of samples and thereby make better estimates of short-term treatment effects on soil organic matter oxidation B. Some sugarcane cultivars had greater soluble carbohydrates in the root zone than other cultivars, and there were greater soluble carbohydrates around the roots at higher water-table depths. This study was important because it will help researchers learn why some cultivars of sugarcane yield better than others after exposure to high water tables often found in Florida sugarcane. A pot study was conducted outside using five cultivars of sugarcane and three water-table depths to investigate carbohydrate losses around sugarcane roots. Results suggest that part of sugarcane adaptation to high water tables involves efficiency of carbohydrate storage by the plant. C. None. D. This documents research under a Trust Fund Cooperative Agreement # 58- 6625-1-202 between Monsanto Corp., Tangerine, FL and ARS, and University of Florida. Minimum tillage had not been previously reported to be an important factor for reducing organic matter oxidation in high organic matter. It was determined that minimum tillage can reduce organic matter losses in high organic matter soils. 5. Describe the major accomplishments over the life of the project, including their predicted or actual impact. Organic soils in the Everglades are losing depth due to microbial activity. Raising water tables reduces microbial activity and soil loss. However, it has been found that raising water tables to 6 inches below the soil surface was similar to flooding to three inches above the soil surface. Consequently, farmers may not have to flood soils to prevent soil loss. Minimizing tillage of organic soils may further reduce organic matter losses due to reduced microbial activity. Sugarcane cultivars have inefficient carbohydrate storage at water tables less than 12 inches. Furthermore, sugarcane adaptation to water tables less than 12 inches includes increased root mass and length and reduced root diameter near the soil surface. Finally, the C14 method to determine organic matter oxidation potential is best for either drained or flooded organic soils compared to carbon dioxide evolution, microbial biomass carbon, and microbial biomass nitrogen. 6. What science and/or technologies have been transferred and to whom? When is the science and/or technology likely to become available to the end- user (industry, farmer, other scientists)? What are the constraints, if known, to the adoption and durability of the technology products? Technology transfer to farmers, extension, industry, and scientists occurred by oral and written presentations. The information transferred included: 1. Deep tillage increases organic matter losses in high organic matter soils. 2. A six inch water table after a seven day flood reduces potential for organic matter losses similar to flood. 3. The C isotope method is better for measuring potential for organic matter losses under sugarcane compared to carbon dioxide losses. 4. Large carbon losses occur within two hours after drainage in high organic matter soils. 5. Some sugarcane genotypes are inefficient in carbon storage in high water tables and may contribute to reduced yield losses. 6. Sugarcane root exudates may contribute to reduced microbial growth around the roots. 7. Sugarcane tolerance to high water tables includes increased root mass and length and reduced root diameter. 8. The effect of flooding on reducing sugarcane fresh wt and sugar yields was quantified in a cultivar not tolerant to high water tables: each day of flooding reduced cane and sugar yields an average of 0.039 and 0.006 lbs per cu ft, respectively. 9. High water-table tolerant sugarcane varieties produce larger air spaces in stalks for oxygen transport to roots. 10. A review of the influence of high water table on sugarcane yields was given: some sugarcane varieties have little yield reduction due to high water tables and maximum emergence of new tillers occurs at a 10 inch soil depth. 11. New computer technology can efficiently characterize root length and diameter of sugarcane roots grown in soil with high water tables. 12. There are about 4 million acres of organic soils in Florida, but only about 12% are cropped. Cropped organic soils represent 9% of the total Everglades organic soils of the Everglades. 13. Even though sugarcane is not as tolerant to high water tables as the native sawgrass that formed most of the Everglades organic soil, in a pot study, sugarcane produced 10 times more dry matter, suggesting that sugarcane grown at high water tables would result in more soil accretion than sawgrass growing at the same water tables. 14. Sugarcane has 13 times more root length than sawgrass and St. Augustinegrass, suggesting that sugarcane would be preferable for filtering nutrients to limit enrichment of the Everglades. 7. List your most important publications in the popular press and presentations to organizations and articles written about your work. Morris, D.R. presented: Sugarcane root growth under high water table to farmers, extension, and industry people. USDA, ARS, Sugarcane Station Field Day. Canal Point, FL. Jan. 7, 2004. Morris, D.R. presented: Root scanning demonstration to farmers, extension, and industry people. USDA, ARS, Sugarcane Station Field Day. Canal Point, FL. Jan. 7, 2004. Morris, D.R. presented: Inventory and crop use of Histosols in Florida to extension, research, and state regulatory people. Soil & Crop Science Soc. Florida. Tallahassee, FL. May 20, 2004. Morris, D.R. presented: Dry matter distribution and root morphology of sugarcane, sawgrass, and St. Augustinegrass due to water table depth to extension, research, and state regulatory people. Soil & Crop Science Society of Florida. Tallahassee, FL. May 20, 2004

Impacts
(N/A)

Publications

  • Glaz, B.S., Edme, S.J., Morris, D.R., Comstock, J.C., Gilbert, R.A. 2004. Water table and sugarcane: a review of recent research. Sugar Journal. Vol. 67(1):16
  • Glaz, B.S., Morris, D.R., Daroub, S. 2004. Periodic flood and water table effects on two sugarcane genotypes. Agronomy Journal. 96:832-838
  • Morris, D.R., Tai, P.Y. 2004. Root morphology and dry yields of sugarcane due to water table depth. Sugar J. 67(1) : 14.
  • Morris, D.R., Gilbert, R.A., D.C. Reicosky,and R.W. Gesch. 2004.Oxidation potentials of soil organic matter in histosols under different tillage methods. Soil Science Society of America Journal. 68:817-826.
  • Morris, D.R., Glaz, B.S., Daroub, S. 2002. Soil organic matter oxidation potential with fluctuating water table under sugarcane. Agronomy Abstracts. CDR s05-morris084233-o.
  • Morris, D.R., Tai, P.Y., Struve, D. 2004. Sugarcane yield and rhizosphere characteristics in flooded organic soil determined from a pot. American Society Of Sugar Cane Technologists. Vol. 24, pges. 18-30
  • Morris, D.R., Tai, P.Y. 2004. Water table effects on sugarcane root and shoot development. American Society Of Sugar Cane Technologists. Vol. 24, pges. 41-59.


Progress 10/01/02 to 09/30/03

Outputs
1. What major problem or issue is being resolved and how are you resolving it? The organic soils of the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) are subsiding due mostly to microbial degradation. During the degradation process, nutrients such as carbon and phosphorus are released from the organic matter. The loss of large amounts of carbon causes reduced soil depth, which is a loss of a natural resource that can not be replaced. The release of large amounts of nutrient release (phosphorus and nitrogen) in the soil causes groundwater contamination that can change the natural ecology of the region. The best way to reduce organic matter loss and nutrient release is by raising the water table. However, raising water tables reduces crop yields. This project addresses the problems listed above with the goal of contributing to a viable agriculture in the EAA without causing environmental damage. Specific objectives of this project are to: 1) determine factors and processes affecting soil organic matter degradation; 2) develop water management treatments that reduces degradation of organic soils while maintaining crop yields; 3) determine the quantity of organic matter inputs and losses in EAA soils under different cropping systems and water management regimes; 4) develop treatments to reduce phosphorus levels in soil solution while maintaining crop yields. The approach is to use laboratory, growth chamber, lysimeters, and field experiments in order to obtain a complete package for understanding soil organic matter degradation processes in agricultural production systems of the EAA. 2. How serious is the problem? Why does it matter? Agriculture in the EAA contributes over a billion dollars to the US economy. But, the land is currently losing soil at a rate of about 12 inch/year due to organic matter degradation. In addition, producers are paying the state Florida land use tax of $25/acre to compensate for cleanup of excess phosphorus in groundwater. If soil degradation continues, the EAA will become less productive in producing sugar and other crops grown in the region. Since South Florida produces about 20 % of the sugar consumed in the US as well as many winter vegetables and turf, the loss of productive land could directly impact American consumers by increasing the cost of agricultural products. Also, the loss of a natural resource (soil) is a loss to our country that can not be brought back by purchase at any price 3. How does it relate to the National Program(s) and National Program Component(s) to which it has been assigned? This research fits in well with the ARS mission. One focus of the Natural Resources and Sustainable Agricultural Systems is to develop soil management practices to overcome limitations to productivity while maintaining or enhancing environmental quality. Specifically, this project fulfills the needs of the National Soil Resource Management Program - 202 , Nutrient Management Component, Problem Area 4 - Management Effects on Carbon-Related Processes and Soil Response, Goals 1 - Identify and develop management practices that maintain or increase organic matter in soil and 3 - Develop management practices that provide sufficient nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulfur to meet plant needs and that allow for the accumulation of organic matter without jeopardizing environmental quality. In addition the Federal Task Force for the Restoration of the South Florida Ecosystem, the Governor's Commission for Sustainable South Florida, and the Florida Sugar Cane League have identified these research goals as high priority for managing Everglades resources. 4. What were the most significant accomplishments this past year? A. Single most significant accomplishment: An experiment was conducted to determine the relationship between root growth and sugarcane yield under high water tables. Twelve sugarcane genotypes were grown in soil at different water table levels (0, 15, and 30 cm) in cooperation with scientists at ARS, Canal Point, FL. Results indicated that root mass was less affected by high water tables than was shoot mass, and the most important root characteristic for high sugarcane yields were increased root mass and length and smaller root diameters in the upper soil horizons. A better understanding of sugarcane root physiology has been obtained so that sugarcane breeders can utilize root characteristic in selecting plants adaptable to high water tables. B. Other significant accomplishment: An experiment was conducted to determine the influence of water table level on sugarcane rhizosphere parameters (soluble organic carbon, pH, phosphate, ammonium, nitrate, bacteria, actinomycetes, and fungi). Five sugarcane genotypes were grown at three water table levels (0,15, and 30 cm) in cooperation with P. Tai at ARS, Canal Point, FL and D. Struve at South Florida Water Management District, West Palm Beach, FL. Soluble organic carbon was the only parameter in the rhizosphere that was related (negatively) to sugarcane yields and bacterial numbers. Soluble organic carbon is in important rhizosphere parameter that should be monitored in order to obtain a better understanding of sugarcane and bacterial growth under high water tables. 5. Describe the major accomplishments over the life of the project, including their predicted or actual impact. This project is a new project, so additional years of data will be needed before precise recommendations can be made. Organic soils in the everglades are degrading due to microbial activity. Raising water tables reduces microbial activity and soil loss. However, it has been found that raising water tables to 6 inches below the soil surface was similar to flooding to three inches above the soil surface. Consequently, farmers may not have to flood soils to prevent soil loss. Minimizing tillage of organic soils may further reduce organic matter losses due to reduced microbial activity. 6. What do you expect to accomplish, year by year, over the next 3 years? Three experiment are planned to continue through FY2004. The first is a field experiment that was started in FY2003 to determine the influence of fertilizer nitrogen nutrition under successive and rotation sugarcane on soil organic matter degradation. This study will show whether field type and nitrogen fertilization has an influence on soil degradation. The second is a field experiment involving growing sugarcane with two tillage practices (minimum and conventional) in combination with two water table levels (flooded and 30 cm) to demonstrate to growers that sugarcane cane be grown with high water table and reduced tillage without significant yield losses and without harmful effects on the environment. The third is a lysimeter study designed to determine the length of flood period under sugarcane crops that is needed to minimize soil organic matter degradation. In FY2005, experiments are planned to investigate crop species and fluctuating water table levels on soil organic matter oxidation potential. These studies will show if growing some crop species are better than others for reducing soil degradation, and also indicate the water table level needed to grow those crops. In FY2006, an experiment is planned to determine influence of soil type and chemical characteristics on organic matter degradation potential. This study will indicate if there are soil properties that can be measured that would predict low organic matter degradation potential. 7. What science and/or technologies have been transferred and to whom? When is the science and/or technology likely to become available to the end- user (industry, farmer, other scientists)? What are the constraints, if known, to the adoption and durability of the technology products? Informal presentations by phone and in person between sugarcane growers and industry personnel have been completed to discuss research results.

Impacts
(N/A)

Publications

  • Morris, D.R., Gilbert, R.A., Reicosky, D.C., Gesch, R.W. 2003. Soil organic matter decomposition potentials in organic soils under different tillage methods. American Society Of Sugar Cane Technologists.
  • Morris, D.R., B. Glaz, and S. Daroub. Soil organic matter oxidation potential with fluctuating water table under sugarcane. American Society of Agronomy Abstracts. CDR s05-morris084233-o. 2002.
  • Reicosky, D.C., R.A. Gilbert, D.R. Morris, and R.W. Gesch. Tillage and wind effects on CO2 concentrations in muck soils. American Society of Agronomy Abstracts. CDR s01-reicosky134348-o. 2002.