Source: AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH SERVICE submitted to
DRYLAND CROPPING SYSTEMS MANAGEMENT FOR THE CENTRAL GREAT PLAINS
Sponsoring Institution
Agricultural Research Service/USDA
Project Status
TERMINATED
Funding Source
Reporting Frequency
Annual
Accession No.
0410321
Grant No.
(N/A)
Project No.
5407-12130-006-00D
Proposal No.
(N/A)
Multistate No.
(N/A)
Program Code
(N/A)
Project Start Date
Jun 1, 2006
Project End Date
May 31, 2011
Grant Year
(N/A)
Project Director
VIGIL M F
Recipient Organization
AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH SERVICE
(N/A)
AKRON,CO 80720
Performing Department
(N/A)
Non Technical Summary
(N/A)
Animal Health Component
50%
Research Effort Categories
Basic
50%
Applied
50%
Developmental
0%
Classification

Knowledge Area (KA)Subject of Investigation (SOI)Field of Science (FOS)Percent
1020199107070%
2051599106030%
Goals / Objectives
Overall Project Goal: Develop long-term sustainable soil and crop management practices for the Central Great Plains Region (CGPR) and identify technologies that maximize the use of the region¿s soil and water resources with minimal negative environmental impact. Objectives: 1. Develop adaptive management practices and document their benefits to optimize yield and enhance ecosystem services for CGPR dryland agricultural systems most vulnerable to potential adverse climate changes with an emphasis on precipitation and temperature. 2. Quantify microbial plant associations and their effects on plant productivity in no-till dryland cropping systems. 3. Develop best management practices for remediation/restoration of degraded soils in the CGPR. 4. Development of alternative bio-fuel specialty crops for incorporation into alternative dryland cropping systems. 5. Quantify how localized climate, topography, soils and management that vary across landscapes affect crop yields, carbon sequestration, and nutrient cycling for dryland agricultural systems and to develop adaptation options to mitigate risks for dryland cropping systems associated with climate change.
Project Methods
Field, and laboratory experiments and modeling efforts will be conducted to determine the adaptability of current dryland cropping systems to potential changes in climate (primarily drought the result of declining precipitation and/or increases in evaporative demand) in the region. These experiments and modeling efforts will include studies to evaluate and test the adaptability of dryland crop rotations across a regional site network that varies in soil type, climate and elevation (topography). Experiments will include the effects of residue management, nutrient management and crop ecological management to maximize carbon fixation/sequestration and crop yield and to reduce dependence on pesticides and other ag-chemicals. The effect of rotation and soil management on soil chemical, physical and biological quality will be also quantified. Crop and soil simulation models will be calibrated/evaluated for prediction accuracy of yield and soil transformations using 102 years of climate data and multiple years of crop rotation results to extrapolate research at CGPRS to other locations in the region. Economic risk assessment of intensive dryland rotations will be calibrated to determine economic feasibility.

Progress 06/01/06 to 05/31/11

Outputs
Progress Report Objectives (from AD-416) Overall Project Goal: Develop long-term sustainable soil and crop management practices for the Central Great Plains Region (CGPR) and identify technologies that maximize the use of the region�s soil and water resources with minimal negative environmental impact. Objectives: 1. Develop adaptive management practices and document their benefits to optimize yield and enhance ecosystem services for CGPR dryland agricultural systems most vulnerable to potential adverse climate changes with an emphasis on precipitation and temperature. 2. Quantify microbial plant associations and their effects on plant productivity in no-till dryland cropping systems. 3. Develop best management practices for remediation/restoration of degraded soils in the CGPR. 4. Development of alternative bio-fuel specialty crops for incorporation into alternative dryland cropping systems. 5. Quantify how localized climate, topography, soils and management that vary across landscapes affect crop yields, carbon sequestration, and nutrient cycling for dryland agricultural systems and to develop adaptation options to mitigate risks for dryland cropping systems associated with climate change. Approach (from AD-416) Field, and laboratory experiments and modeling efforts will be conducted to determine the adaptability of current dryland cropping systems to potential changes in climate (primarily drought the result of declining precipitation and/or increases in evaporative demand) in the region. These experiments and modeling efforts will include studies to evaluate and test the adaptability of dryland crop rotations across a regional site network that varies in soil type, climate and elevation (topography). Experiments will include the effects of residue management, nutrient management and crop ecological management to maximize carbon fixation/sequestration and crop yield and to reduce dependence on pesticides and other ag-chemicals. The effect of rotation and soil management on soil chemical, physical and biological quality will be also quantified. Crop and soil simulation models will be calibrated/evaluated for prediction accuracy of yield and soil transformations using 102 years of climate data and multiple years of crop rotation results to extrapolate research at CGPRS to other locations in the region. Economic risk assessment of intensive dryland rotations will be calibrated to determine economic feasibility. This is the final report for project 5407-12130-006-00D terminated in 2011. ARS scientists at Akron, Colorado in collaboration with the ARS scientists in Ft. Collins used crop production and water use data from the dryland alternative crop rotation experiment to develop new crop response models for spring canola, corn, proso millet and wheat. Farmers use the risk analysis tools developed for risk assessment when considering these crops in dryland rotations. Risk analysis tools using these data were provided to farmers on compact disc and a website to assist in crop rotation planning. Production functions of triticale and foxtail millet were developed to inform farmers and ranchers on the quantity and quality of these forage crops as a supplement to rangeland grass production in mixed crop � livestock systems. Research on improving degraded soils continued, with coordinated studies at Akron, CO, Hays, KS, and Bowling Green, KY. The effects of manure applications on the long- term soil fertility and soil physical properties were evaluated for restoring soils degraded by erosion. This research evaluated soil management practices on soil aggregation, carbon sequestration, and potential greenhouse gas emissions. Evaluation of soil physical properties on the root environment continued and a method was developed for estimating relative suitability of the soil environment for root and crop growth. The method was tested against data accumulated during the project. Soil spectroscopy work continued for evaluating crop management factors on transient organic compounds contained in organic matter. Additionally, soil spectroscopy was used to identify transient and stable fractions of organic compounds in biochar. Biochar may improve soil properties and provide a source of stable organic matter for carbon sequestration. Eight refereed journal publications were produced this fiscal year. The topics included papers on: dryland rotation selection based on stored soil water and projected rainfall; the detrimental effects of fallow on soil quality; modeling dryland crop rotations; effects of crop rotations on soil aggregation and carbon sequestration; use of cover crops in no-till; and using spectroscopy for evaluating chemical compounds in soil organic matter. This project will continue under the project 5407-12210-001-00D, Sustainable Dryland Cropping Systems for the Central Great Plains. Significant Activities that Support Special Target Populations Much of the research conducted at the research station focuses on technology and scientific discoveries for use by small farmers (under $250,000 annual gross receipts). The station holds a summer field day with attendance of over 100 local and regional farmers to inform the farmers on new and emerging technology for use in their operations. The station holds a winter brainstorming session where over 60 regional farmers and ranchers are invited to critique current research topics and provide input on what issues are of the greatest interest to them. Station scientists assist extension personnel and commodity groups in Colorado, Kansas, and Nebraska to provide expertise for �crop schools� that offer continuing education for many hundreds of farmers, ranchers and crop consultants. Accomplishments 01 Enhancing canola production. Canola oil is in high demand because its o has health benefits. This consumer demand is sparking an expansion in acreage. Hence, spring canola is a new crop across dryland cropping syst in the Central Great Plains. To enhance canola production across locatio with varying soil moisture, ARS scientist in Akron, CO, used weather records to model canola yield. Additional models were developed for spri triticale, proso millet, and foxtail millet. Yield distribution maps and models for canola that incorporate rotational crops allow farmers to access production risks and net returns of cropping systems involving canola. This research enhances the production of canola decreasing the need for foreign import. 02 Irrigation water use efficiency. Improving water use efficiency for irrigated agriculture in the central Great Plains maximizes the benefit this limited and expensive input for crop production. A water use-crop yield production function was established by ARS researchers at Akron, C for irrigated corn, which uses available initial soil water estimates an expected growing season precipitation to estimate irrigation water requirements. The same (or similar) function for forage soybean can determine yield probability for several Central Great Plains locations. Additionally, data on corn, triticale and wheat growth, development, and yield were used to calibrate and evaluate simulation model for making dryland cropping decisions based on soil water at planting. The yield estimates provide guidance for farmers to diversify their cropping syste for maximum return. 03 Analysis of factors affecting proso millet production. Proso millet is important, well-adapted, minor crop in the central Great Plains, yet little is known about the response of the crop to weather conditions. An analysis of 14 years of proso millet yields from many different cropping systems identified the most important factors influencing yield were wat use, rain received from August 12-18, soil water content at planting, da with temperatures exceeding 36 C, and high winds the week before harvest The regression model developed from this analysis used existing weather data sets from Great Plains locations to estimate proso millet yields an probabilities of achieving break-even yields. Producers use this information in designing more intensive rotations that include millet in the rotation. 04 Degraded soils require inputs for restoration. Soil degradation from previous soil management practices reduces potential crop production. AR scientists in Akron, CO, in collaboration with scientists at Kansas Stat University and the University of Kentucky, demonstrated that adding manu to degraded soil improves soil properties. Additionally, a high amount o manure provides sufficient plant nutrients to replace commercial fertilizer in wheat, proso millet and grain sorghum and has the capacity to supply nutrient for up to five years. A high manure application rate reduces the expense of annual manure applications and can replace yearly commercial fertilizer applications. A commercial composting operation ha been established adjacent to a local feedlot and farmers are implementin high manure and compost applications to replace commercial fertilizers. 05 Modeling soil effects on plant root growth. Most crop production models lack a root system sub model that is responsive to changing soil physica conditions. ARS scientists in Akron, CO developed a new mathematical mod to evaluate soil management changes on soil physical properties and show the effect soil management has on root distribution. They demonstrated that the new model improved root growth estimates compared with current models. The new model provides a logical framework for developing specie dependent root growth models that are more responsive to soil physical changes caused by changing tillage, irrigation and compaction management 06 Measuring soil organic matter quality. The chemistry of soil organic matter determines organic matter storage and oxidation, influencing both nutrient release and potential sequestration. ARS scientists in Akron, collaboration with scientists at Colorado State University, Texas Tech University, and the US Geological Survey developed new spectroscopic techniques that are both quick and inexpensive to identify chemical constituents in soil organic matter. The techniques were used to evaluat soil quality changes from the time native grass was tilled and placed in crop production and can be used for determining the contribution of soil carbon to greenhouse gas emissions from changes in tillage or cropping systems.

Impacts
(N/A)

Publications

  • Nielsen, D.C., Vigil, M.F., Benjamin, J.G. 2011. Evaluating decision rules for dryland rotation crop selection. Field Crops Research. 120:254-261.
  • Nielsen, D.C., Calderon, F.J. 2011. Fallow Effects on Soil. p. 287-300 In J.L. Hatfield and T.J. Sauer (ed) Soil Management:building a stable base for agriculture. ASA and SSSA, Madison, WI.
  • Sistani, K.R., Mikha, M.M., Warren, J.G., Gilfillen, B., Acosta Martinez, V. 2011. Nutrient Source and Tillage Impact on Corn Grain Yield and Soil Properties. Soil Science. 175(12):593-600.
  • Saseendran, S.A., D.C. Nielsen, Liwang Ma, L.R. Ahuja, M.F. Vigil, 2010. Simulating Alternative Dryland Rotational Cropping Systems in the Central Great Plains with RZWQM2. Agronomy Journal. 102:1521-1534. doi:10. 2134/agronj2010.0141.
  • Mikha, M.M., Benjamin, J.G., Vigil, M.F., Nielsen, D.C. 2010. Cropping Intensity Impacts on Soil Aggregation and Carbon Sequestration in the Central Great Plains. Soil Science Society of America Journal. 74(5):1712- 1719. doi:10.2136/sssaj2009.0335.
  • Calderon, F.J., Reeves III, J.B., Collins, H.P., Eldor, P.A. 2011. Chemical differences in soil organic matter fractions determined by diffuse-reflectance mid-infrared spectroscopy. Soil Science Society of America Journal. 75(2)568-579.
  • Saseendran, S.A., Nielsen, D.C., Ma, L., Ahuja, L.R. 2010. Adapting CROPGRO for Simulating Spring Canola Growth with Both RZWQM2 and DSSAT 4.0. Agronomy Journal 102:1606-1621. Doi:10.2134/agronj2010.0277.
  • Blanco, H., Mikha, M.M., Presley, D.R., Claassen, M.M. 2011. Addition of cover crops enhances no-till potential for improving soil physical properties. Soil Science Society of America Journal. 75(4):1471-1482.


Progress 10/01/09 to 09/30/10

Outputs
Progress Report Objectives (from AD-416) Overall Project Goal: Develop long-term sustainable soil and crop management practices for the Central Great Plains Region (CGPR) and identify technologies that maximize the use of the region�s soil and water resources with minimal negative environmental impact. Objectives: 1. Develop adaptive management practices and document their benefits to optimize yield and enhance ecosystem services for CGPR dryland agricultural systems most vulnerable to potential adverse climate changes with an emphasis on precipitation and temperature. 2. Quantify microbial plant associations and their effects on plant productivity in no-till dryland cropping systems. 3. Develop best management practices for remediation/restoration of degraded soils in the CGPR. 4. Development of alternative bio-fuel specialty crops for incorporation into alternative dryland cropping systems. 5. Quantify how localized climate, topography, soils and management that vary across landscapes affect crop yields, carbon sequestration, and nutrient cycling for dryland agricultural systems and to develop adaptation options to mitigate risks for dryland cropping systems associated with climate change. Approach (from AD-416) Field, and laboratory experiments and modeling efforts will be conducted to determine the adaptability of current dryland cropping systems to potential changes in climate (primarily drought resulting from declining precipitation and/or increases in evaporative demand) in the region. These experiments and modeling efforts will include studies to evaluate and test the adaptability of dryland crop rotations across a regional site network that varies in soil type, climate and elevation (topography). Experiments will include the effects of residue management, nutrient management and crop ecological management to maximize carbon fixation/sequestration and crop yield and to reduce dependence on pesticides and other ag-chemicals. The effect of rotation and soil management on soil chemical, physical and biological quality will be also quantified. Crop and soil simulation models will be calibrated/evaluated for prediction accuracy of yield and soil transformations using 102 years of climate data and multiple years of crop rotation results to extrapolate research at CGPRS to other locations in the region. Economic risk assessment of intensive dryland rotations will be calibrated to determine economic feasibility. ARS Scientists at Akron, Colorado developed several new predictive mathematical relationships for incorporation into decision support tools for estimating yield water use relationships of dryland winter wheat, dryland corn and other crops. The use and application of these decision support tools have been shared formally and informally with farmers, extension personnel and other agricultural researchers in the region at several producer meetings and at field day events. The decision support tools are accessible to the public through our website. Much of the skip- row research is complete but, through collaborations with researchers at Colorado State University (CSU) and ARS scientists at Sydney, Montana, the research is continuing to develop. We are now evaluating skip-row planting in sorghum with row direction and are evaluating light reception with skip-row in dryland corn. The millet wheat crop sequence experiment is finished. The results are inconsistent with respect to seeing a major effect of the millet residue on wheat production. Water availability still seems (as might be expected) to be the primary driver for subsequent wheat yields. Several soil quality, soil organic matter and soil carbon summary manuscripts were published this past year by ARS Akron researchers in collaboration with regional university scientists in Kansas, Colorado and Nebraska. Eight refereed journal articles and several other minor publications were published this past year dealing with various aspects of dryland cropping systems. Topics published include: simulation model validation of dryland canola yields, regional soil quality evaluations as affected by no-tillage and cropping intensity, crop biomass removal effects on soil degradation, water use yield relationships of dryland corn, prediction of soil water storage in summer fallow, yields of skip-row planted corn and sorghum in dryland systems, soil fertility response relationships of triticale, wheat and dryland corn and spectral methods for characterizing soil C quality and crop shoot/root relationships. Significant Activities that Support Special Target Populations Significant activities that support special target populations: Nearly all of our research is designed and focused to help small farmers in the four state area known as the Central Great Plains region (CGPR). Eighty- five to ninety-five percent of all the producers we interact with are small farmers as identified by the USDA criteria of under $250,000 annual gross receipts. Nearly all of the above accomplishments support the special target population known as small farmers. Our research is directed specifically to their needs. A close relationship exists between the research conducted by the ARS station at Akron and the needs of the customer/farmers who are the recipients of the results of that research. The unit hosted three summer field days that boast as many as 350 in (total) attendance. Nearly 80% of the attendees are producers, other attendees are ag consultants, Agri-business, NRCS and cooperative extension. We sponsored a winter tech-transfer meeting that had 370 in attendance from the four state region (almost 90% in attendance are producers). In addition the unit scientists were invited to present at several other regional field days in the 4 state region. This past year unit scientists participated in over 35 technology transfer events. Accomplishments 01 New quantification of the soil degradation caused by harvesting crop biomass for bio-energy or other off farm uses. Crop residues have recent been seen as a resource for renewable energy production. Very few repor have documented the effect long-term crop-biomass removal has on the sustainability of the soil resource. ARS researchers at Akron, Colorado measured the long-term effect crop-biomass removal has on soil organic carbon, soil organic matter, and other soil properties associated with soil quality. Full removal of crop residues both under irrigated and limited irrigated conditions decreases soil carbon. The research showed that only irrigated continuous-corn provided enough crop biomass to allo some (about 20%) removal for off-farm uses. However, under semi-arid conditions, even with irrigation, biomass production could not justify greater than about 20% biomass removal before soil quality for future generations will be compromised. We reported that removal of significant amounts of crop residue, even under irrigated conditions, detrimentally effects soil physical and chemical properties due to loss of soil carbon 02 New predictive relationships for dryland corn as affected by soil water planting and growing season precipitation. ARS researchers at Akron, Colorado developed 2 linear relationships that predict dryland corn yiel based on amount of precipitation falling between 16 July and 26 August. �These two relationships�explained 87% of the variation in�yield when available soil water at planting plus May precipitation, was greater tha 10 inches and 93% of the variation in yield when available soil water at planting, including May precipitation was less than 10 inches. Prior to planting, risks associated with corn production in the Central Great Plains can be assessed using these relationships in conjunction with lon term precipitation records. 03 Field validation of existing Simulating models. ARS scientists at Akron, Colorado in collaboration with ARS colleagues in Fort Collins have documented/validated the usefulness of the CROPGRO-faba bean model for accurately simulating field measured yields of spring canola growth, development, water use, and yield. The model was implemented�within both DSSAT 4.0 and RZWQM2 cropping systems simulation platforms permitting future assessment of canola productivity across the central Great Plains region and within potential new wheat-based crop rotations varying in cropping intensity. The simulation results confirm the potential for usi RZWQM2 to simulate dryland crop yields under varying weather and soil conditions, and provide results that aid in the creation of decision support tools for dryland crop mnagement. 04 New documentation of soil attributes on root growth and distribution of common crops. ARS researchers at Akron, Colorado contributed to a summar and synthesis of knowledge on soil-root growth. Plant roots are the vita link between soil conditions and crop productivity. This effort summariz current knowledge on the effects of soil physical properties on plant rooting, and provides a summary of current methods to quantify soil suitability for crop production. The research points out knowledge gaps our understanding on how to model the root-soil interaction. 05 New quantification of the soil building benefits of long-term continuous cropping with reduced fallow frequency. ARS scientists at Akron, Colorad documented the soil building benefits of long-term intensive no-till dryland cropping systems. In the Central Great Plains much of the drylan cropping includes the old traditional wheat fallow (WF)system. The WF system fixes less atmospheric carbon and, in general, results in greater soil degradation than more intensive no-till systems. With many soils th WF system is not sustainable. The soil improving effects of 15 years of till intensive cropping significantly increased soil organic C (SOC), so tilth (soil aggregates), and particulate organic matter (POM) relative t the conventional tilled WF-conventional-till, and even no-till WF-no-til The research documents the rate of change in soil properties and SOC in the central Great Plains region; which is slow due to the dry conditions and low biomass production. Crop rotations that include a fallow period and/or tillage promoted SOC losses, thus slowing SOC accumulation and stable soil aggregate formation. 06 New chemical characterization of soil organic matter and soil organic carbon using quick methods of spectral analysis. Characterizing soil carbon quality is necessary in order to understand the stability of soil carbon under different agronomic conditions and climate scenarios. Typically these characterizations involve long-tedious methods of analys using wet acid-base chemistry. ARS scientists at Akron, Colorado characterized soil organic matter quality (including humic and fulvic acids) and analyzed important soil organic matter fractions using new �quick methods� of infrared spectroscopy. They characterized soil carbon in different Corn Belt and Central Great Plains soils and in soils manag under alternative crop rotations in a semiarid climate. They documented the chemical differences in soil organic matter fractions as determined these new spectral methods.

Impacts
(N/A)

Publications

  • Johnson, J.M., Papiernik, S.K., Mikha, M.M., Spokas, K.A., Tomer, M.D., Weyers, S.L. 2009. Soil Processes and Residue Harvest Management. In: Lal, R., Stewart, B.A., editors. Soil Quality and Biofuel Production. Advances in Soil Science. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press. p. 1-44.
  • Nielsen, D.C., Halvorson, A.D., Vigil, M.F. 2010. Critical Precipitation Period for Dryland Maize Production. Field Crops Research 118:259-263. doi:10.1016/j.fcr.2010.06.004
  • Unger, P.W., Kirkham, M.B., Nielsen, D.C. 2010. Water Conservation for Agriculture. In: Zobeck, T.M., Schillinger, W.F., editors. Soil and Water Conservation Advances in the United States. Special Publication 60. Madison, WI:Soil Science Society of America, Inc. p. 1-45.
  • Harrington, J.E., Byrne, P.F., Peairs, F.B., Nissen, S.J., Westra, P., Ellsworth, P.C., Fournier, A., Mallory-Smith, C.A., Zemtra, R.S., Henry, W. B. 2010. Perceived Consequences of Herbicide-Tolerant and Insect-Resistant Crops on Integrated Pest Management Strategies in the Western United States: Results of an Online Survey. Ag Bioethics Forum Vol. 12(3&4) Article 16. Pages 1-17.
  • Nielsen, D.C., Vigil, M.F. 2010. Precipitation Storage Efficiency During Fallow in Wheat-Fallow Systems. Agronomy Journal. v.102(2)537-543.
  • Benjamin, J.G., Halvorson, A.D., Nielsen, D.C., Mikha, M.M. 2010. Crop Management Effects on Crop Residue Production and Changes in Soil Organic Carbon in the Central Great Plains. Agronomy Journal. 102:990-997.
  • Benjamin, J.G., Mikha, M.M. 2010. Predicting Winter Wheat Yield Loss from Soil Compaction in the Central Great Plains of the United States. Book Chapter:Land Degradation and Desertification: Assessment, Mitigation and Remediation 49:649-656. Doi: 10.1007/978-90-481-8657-0.
  • Humberto, B., Stone, L.R., Schlegel, A.J., Benjamin, J.G., Vigil, M.F., Stahlman, P.W. 2010. Continuous Cropping Systems Reduce Near-Surface Maximum Compaction in No-Till Soils. Agronomy Journal. 102:1217-1225. DOI:10.2134/agronj2010.0113.


Progress 10/01/08 to 09/30/09

Outputs
Progress Report Objectives (from AD-416) Overall Project Goal: Develop long-term sustainable soil and crop management practices for the Central Great Plains Region (CGPR) and identify technologies that maximize the use of the region's soil and water resources with minimal negative environmental impact. 1. Develop sustainable soil, nutrient, weed control and water conservation technologies for dryland cropping systems of the CGPR that improve water and nutrient use efficiency and maintain/improve desirable soil physical and chemical properties (sequester C and improve soil quality). 2. Quantify microbial plant associations and their effects on plant productivity in no-till dryland cropping systems. 3. Develop best management practices for remediation/restoration of degraded soils in the CGPR. 4. Develop soil and crop management practices to include bio-fuel specialty crops into alternative dryland cropping systems for the Central Great Plains region. Additional Information: Develop cooperative activities with ARS and university partners as needed. Approach (from AD-416) Field, laboratory and greenhouse experiments will be conducted using appropriate experimental designs (Latin square, split plot, etc.) to determine long-term sustainable minimum/no-till dryland crop rotations for the region. These experiments include studies to evaluate alternative crop sequencing, fertility needs, and cultural practices to reduce dependence on pesticides and other ag chemicals. The effect of rotation and cultural management on weeds, and weed-crop interactions; and on soil chemical and physical characteristics and nutrient cycling will be quantified. Crop and soil simulation models will be calibrated/evaluated for prediction accuracy of yield and soil transformations using 98 years of climate and crop rotation data to extrapolate research results at CGPRS to other regions. Economic risk assessment of intensive dryland rotations will be calculated to determine economic feasibility. Significant Activities that Support Special Target Populations Decision support software (iFEAT) was developed in collaboration with the USDA-Agricultural Systems Research Unit in Fort Collins to meet the economic objectives outlined in the units project plan for developing an economic analysis of the alternative crop rotation experiment. The spreadsheet has been presented at several producer meetings and has had some adoption by farmers, rural bankers, and agricultural business leaders in the Central Great Plains Region (CGPR). Much of the skip-row research is complete with two manuscripts published (one refereed, one proceedings). Two more are being developed. The millet-wheat crop sequence experiments are nearly complete. The on-farm CO2 flux experiments (after 12 years of no-till management) are complete and are being written up as a refereed manuscript. The pre-plant water content corn yield research is complete and in press as a refereed manuscript. A summary manuscript based on ACR data and other rotation data summarizes our current knowledge regarding precipitation storage efficiency during no-till and conventional till summer fallow. This manuscript is in review and will soon be submitted for refereed publication. The economic optimum N rate work with dryland corn and wheat is nearly complete. The data was presented at two international meetings and is being written up into refereed manuscript form. The wheat yield loss from soil compaction research is nearly complete with one manuscript in press. The quick methods using FTIR/NIR spectroscopy for determining the presence of mycorrhizal infection and for evaluating fatty acids in the soil-root environment is still in progress, but has produced two published refereed manuscripts. Significant Activities that Support Special Target Populations Significant activities that support special target populations: Nearly all of our research is designed and focused to help small farmers in the four state area known as the Central Great Plains region (CGPR). Eighty- five to ninety-five percent of all the producers we interact with are small farmers as identified by the USDA criteria of under $250,000 annual gross receipts. Nearly all of the above accomplishments support the special target population known as small farmers. Our research is directed specifically to their needs. A close relationship exists between the research conducted by the ARS station at Akron and the needs of the customer/farmers who are the recipients of the results of that research. The unit hosted two-three summer field days that boast as many as 350 in (total) attendance. (130-170 annual June spring field days, 40-80 other miscellaneous field days). Nearly 80% of the attendees are producers. Other attendees are ag consultants, Agri-business, NRCS and cooperative extension. We sponsored a winter tech-transfer meeting that had 370 in attendance from the four state region (almost 90% in attendance are producers). In addition the unit scientists were invited to present at several other regional field days in the 4 state region. This past year unit scientists participated in over 29 technology transfer events. This past December, 2008, we presented a summary of our Alternative Crop Rotation Experiments to a group of farmers in Hill City, Kansas (sponsored by the Kansas Black Farmers Association). Feedback from the meeting organizers indicated that this presentation was well received and it is our hope this interaction has evolved into an annual event of value to the dryland producers in and around the Hill City/Nicodemus community. Technology Transfer Number of New CRADAS: 1 Number of Web Sites managed: 1 Number of Other Technology Transfer: 29

Impacts
(N/A)

Publications

  • Anapalli, S.S., Nielsen, D.C., Lyon, D.J., Ma, L., Felter, D.G., Baltensperger, D.D., Hoogenboom, G., Ahuja, L.R. 2009. Modeling Responses of Dryland Spring Triticale, Proso Millet and Foxtail Millet to Initial Soil Water in the High Plains. Field Crops Research 113:48-63.
  • Blanco-Cangui, H., Mikha, M.M., Benjamin, J.G., Stone, L.R., Schlegel, A.J. , Lyon, D.J., Vigil, M.F., Stahlman, P.W. 2009. Regional Study of No-Till Impacts on Near-Surface Aggregate Properties that Influence Soil Erodibility. Soil Science Society of America Journal 73:1361-1368.
  • Nielsen, D.C., Vigil, M.F., Benjamin, J.G. 2008. The Variable Response of Dryland Corn Yield to Soil Water Content. Agricultural Water Management 96:330-336.
  • Calderon, F.J., Acosta Martinez, V., Douds, D.D., Reeves III, J.B., Vigil, M.F. 2009. Mid-Infrared and Near Infrared Spectral Properties of Mycorrhizal and Non-Mycorrhizal Root Cultures. Journal of Applied Spectroscopy. 63(5)494-500.
  • Calderon, F.J., Reeves III, J.B., Vigil, M.F., Poss, D.J. 2009. Mid- Infrared and Near Infrared Calibrations for Nutritional Parameters of Triticale (Triticosecale) and Pea (Pisum sativum). Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry. 57:5136-5142. doi:10.1021/jf803936x.
  • Li, L., Nielsen, D.C., Yu, Q., Ma, L., Ahuja, L.R. 2008. Evaluating the Crop Water Stress Index and its Correlation with Latent Heat and CO2 Fluxes Over Winter Wheat and Maize in the North China Plain. Agricultural Water Management.doi:10.1016/j.agwat.2008.09.015.
  • Pikul Jr, J.L., Johnson, J.M., Schumacher, T., Vigil, M.F., Riedell, W.E. 2008. Change in Surface Soil Carbon Under Rotated Corn in Eastern South Dakota. Soil Science Society of America Journal. 72:1738-1744.
  • Lyon, D.J., Pavlista, A.D., Hergert, G.W., Klein, R.N., Shapiro, C.A., Knezevic, S., Mason, S.C., Nelson, L.A., Baltensperger, D.D., Elmore, R.W., Vigil, M.F., Schlegel, A.J., Olson, B.L., Aiken, R.M. 2009. Skip-row Planting Patterns Stabilize Corn Grain Yields in the Central Great Plains. Crop Management. doi:10.1094/CM-2009-0224-02-RS.
  • Liebig, M.A., Mikha, M.M., Potter, K.N. 2009. Management of Dryland Cropping Systems in the U.S. Great Plains: Effects on Soil Organic Carbon. Soil Science Society of America Special Publication Book Chapter. P. 97- 113. In: R. Lal and R.F. Follett (Eds.) Soil carbon sequestration and the greenhouse effect, 2nd Ed. SSSA Spec. Publ. 57. ASA-CSSA-SSSA, Madison, WI.


Progress 10/01/07 to 09/30/08

Outputs
Progress Report Objectives (from AD-416) Overall Project Goal: Develop long-term sustainable soil and crop management practices for the Central Great Plains Region (CGPR) and identify technologies that maximize the use of the region's soil and water resources with minimal negative environmental impact. 1. Develop sustainable soil, nutrient, weed control and water conservation technologies for dryland cropping systems of the CGPR that improve water and nutrient use efficiency and maintain/improve desirable soil physical and chemical properties (sequester C and improve soil quality). 2. Quantify microbial plant associations and their effects on plant productivity in no-till dryland cropping systems. 3. Develop best management practices for remediation/restoration of degraded soils in the CGPR. 4. Develop soil and crop management practices to include bio-fuel specialty crops into alternative dryland cropping systems for the Central Great Plains region. Additional Information: Develop cooperative activities with ARS and university partners as needed. Approach (from AD-416) Field, laboratory and greenhouse experiments will be conducted using appropriate experimental designs (Latin square, split plot, etc.) to determine long-term sustainable minimum/no-till dryland crop rotations for the region. These experiments include studies to evaluate alternative crop sequencing, fertility needs, and cultural practices to reduce dependence on pesticides and other ag chemicals. The effect of rotation and cultural management on weeds, and weed-crop interactions; and on soil chemical and physical characteristics and nutrient cycling will be quantified. Crop and soil simulation models will be calibrated/evaluated for prediction accuracy of yield and soil transformations using 98 years of climate and crop rotation data to extrapolate research results at CGPRS to other regions. Economic risk assessment of intensive dryland rotations will be calculated to determine economic feasibility. Significant Activities that Support Special Target Populations Changes in soil quality in the alternative crop rotation (ACR) experiments were summarized and that data is contained in a draft manuscript that will soon be ready for submission to a refereed Journal. The enterprise budgets analysis of the ACR experiment is being updated to reflect the recent wide spread changes in ag-economics for these rotations. In this effort the 10-year average monthly high price for the three commodity crops was combined with 10 year average yields in the 7 rotations to estimate gross dollar value. The cost of production for each rotation crop was calculated. From the gross dollar value and cost of production the net returns to land, labor and capital were calculated. This report (in spreadsheet form) has been presented as a poster at regional producer meetings. A proceedings paper was published with the Soil Science Congress in Argentina. The first draft of the refereed Journal manuscript is still being written. The soil remediation experiment is now in its first crop sequence and the other experiments are still in the second year of data collection of this 5-year plan. National program #202: Soil Resource Management. Problem area 5: Adoption and implementation of soil and water conservation practices. Focus area 2: Decision tools to assess benefits and enhance adoption of conservation practices and systems. Focus area 1: Improved knowledge and technologies to expand the development and use of new conservation systems and Problem area 3: Soil carbon measurement dynamics and management. Focus area 1: measurement tools for soil carbon. Significant Activities that Support Special Target Populations Significant activities that support special target populations: Nearly all of our research is designed and focused to help small farmers in the four state area known as the Central Great Plains region (CGPR). Eighty- five to ninety-five percent of all the producers we interact with are small farmers as identified by the USDA criteria of under $250,000 annual gross receipts. Nearly all of the above accomplishments support the special target population known as small farmers. Our research is directed specifically to their needs. A close relationship exists between the research conducted by the ARS station at Akron and the needs of the customers/farmers who are the recipients of the results of that research. The unit hosted two-three summer field days that boast as many as 350 in (total) attendance. (130-170 annual June spring field day, 40-80 Other Misc. field days). Nearly 80% of the attendees were producers. Other attendees were Ag consultants, Agri-business, NRCS and cooperative extension. We sponsored a winter tech-transfer meeting that had 370 in attendance from the four state Region (~90% in attendance are producers). In addition the unit scientists were invited to present at several other regional field days in the 4 state Region. This past year unit scientists participated in over 55 technology transfer events. This past December, 2007, we presented a summary of a our Alternative Crop Rotation Experiment to a group of farmers in Hill City, Kansas (sponsored by the Kansas Black Farmers Association). Feedback from the meeting organizers indicated that this presentation was well received and it is our hope this interaction has evolved into an annual event of value to the dryland producers in around the Hill City/Nicodemus community. We are scheduled to present again this coming December of 2008. Technology Transfer Number of Web Sites managed: 1 Number of Other Technology Transfer: 27

Impacts
(N/A)

Publications

  • Cabrera, M., Molina, J.A., Vigil, M.F. 2008. Modeling of the N Cycle. Book Chapter In Nitrogen in Agricultural Systems. 18:695-730. American Society of Agronomy, Inc. Madison, WI.
  • Anapalli, S.S., Ahuja, L.R., Nielsen, D.C., Trout, T.J., Ma, L. 2008. Use of Crop Simulation Models to Evaluate Limited Irrigation Management Options for Corn in Semi-Arid Environment. Water Resources Research. Water Resources Research, 44,W00E02, doi10.1029/2007WR006181.
  • Meisinger, J.J., Calderon, F.J., Jenkinson, D.S. 2008. Soil Nitrogen Budgets. American Society of Agronomy Monograph Series. 13:505-562.
  • Francis, D.D., Vigil, M.F., Moiser, A.R. 2008. Gaseous losses of nitrogen other than through denitrification. In: J.S. Schepers and W.R. Raun, editors. Nitrogen in Agricultural Systems. Agronomy Monograph 49. Madison, WI: American Society of Agronomy. p. 255-279.
  • Plante, A.F., Magrini-Bair, K., Vigil, M.F., Eldor, P. 2008. Pyrolysis- Molecular Beam Mass Spectrometry to Characterize Soil Organic Matter Composition in Chemically Isolated Fractions from Differing Land Uses. Biogeochemistry. DOI 10.1007/s10533-008-9218-3.
  • Benjamin, J.G., Mikha, M.M., Vigil, M.F. 2008. Organic Carbon Effects on Soil Physical and Hydraulic Properties in a Semi-arid Climate. Soil Science Society of America Journal. 72:1357-1362. doi:10.2136/sssaj2007. 0389.
  • Calderon, F.J., Reeves III, J.B., Foster, J.G., Clapham, W.M., Fedders, J. M., Vigil, M.F., Henry, W.B. 2007. Comparison of Diffuse Reflectance Fourier Transform Mid-Infrared and Near-Infrared Spectroscopy with Grating- Based Near-Infrared for the Determination of Fatty Acids in Forages. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 55:8302-8309.
  • Henry, W.B., Nielsen, D.C., Vigil, M.F., Calderon, F.J., West, M.S. 2008. Proso Millet Yield and Residue Mass following Direct Harvest with a Stripper-Header. Agronomy Journal 100:580-584.


Progress 10/01/06 to 09/30/07

Outputs
Progress Report Objectives (from AD-416) Overall Project Goal: Develop long-term sustainable soil and crop management practices for the Central Great Plains Region (CGPR) and identify technologies that maximize the use of the region's soil and water resources with minimal negative environmental impact. 1. Develop sustainable soil, nutrient, weed control and water conservation technologies for dryland cropping systems of the CGPR that improve water and nutrient use efficiency and maintain/improve desirable soil physical and chemical properties (sequester C and improve soil quality). 2. Quantify microbial plant associations and their effects on plant productivity in no-till dryland cropping systems. 3. Develop best management practices for remediation/restoration of degraded soils in the CGPR. 4. Develop soil and crop management practices to include bio-fuel specialty crops into alternative dryland cropping systems for the Central Great Plains region. Additional Information: Develop cooperative activities with ARS and university partners as needed. Approach (from AD-416) Field, laboratory and greenhouse experiments will be conducted using appropriate experimental designs (Latin square, split plot, etc.) to determine long-term sustainable minimum/no-till dryland crop rotations for the region. These experiments include studies to evaluate alternative crop sequencing, fertility needs, and cultural practices to reduce dependence on pesticides and other ag chemicals. The effect of rotation and cultural management on weeds, and weed-crop interactions; and on soil chemical and physical characteristics and nutrient cycling will be quantified. Crop and soil simulation models will be calibrated/evaluated for prediction accuracy of yield and soil transformations using 98 years of climate and crop rotation data to extrapolate research results at CGPRS to other regions. Economic risk assessment of intensive dryland rotations will be calculated to determine economic feasibility. Significant Activities that Support Special Target Populations Enterprise budgets for 7 rotations containing wheat, corn and millet (some with fallow) are developed from data collected from some of the long-term dryland rotation experiments. In this effort the 10-year average monthly high price for the three commodity crops was combined with 10 year average yields in the 7 rotations to estimate gross dollar value. The cost of production for each rotation crop was calculated. From the gross dollar value and cost of production the net returns to land, labor and capital were calculated. This report (in spreadsheet form) has been presented as a poster at regional producer meetings. The first draft of the manuscript is being written. The soil remediation experiment is now in its first crop sequence and the other experiments are still in the second year of data collection of this 5-year plan. Accomplishments Title: Measurements of soil quality enhancements in long-term no-till rotations Description of problem: New intensive no-till rotations provide greater economic returns for dryland farmers than the old wheat-fallow system which is neither environmentally or economically sustainable. However, evidence of how these rotations affect the long-term sustainability of the soil resource has not been completely documented. Accomplishment: In this research we document that in our long-term rotation experiments we have measured significant improvement in soil quality after 14 years of no-till intensive dryland rotation management. Soil quality changes are reflected by increases in measurements of soil C, soil N, soil organic matter, and in aggregate stability. These increases in soil quality measurements are correlated with greater rotation intensity and with less fallow frequency. Title: Skip-row corn, sorghum and sunflower as a drought mitigation strategy for dryland rotation management. Description of problem: The Central Great Plains Region (CGPR) is a net importer of feed-grains (corn, sorghum). This provides an incentive to develop stable dryland feed-grain yields. The lack of adequate moisture during silking/pollen shed is a major limitation to dryland feed-grain production in the region. In this study, we evaluate the skip-row strategy to circumvent the water limitation during silking/pollen shed for corn and sorghum. The idea behind �skip-row� is: water stored in the soil of the �skipped-row area� serves as a water reserve for drought periods later in the season. Because of the distance between the skip-row center and the planted row of corn/sorghum or sunflower, the soil water in the skip-row is not positionally as available to the young plants until they are at the reproductive stage of development (silking/pollen shed). Accomplishment: In our 8-site years of skip-row research we have measured an average increase of 6 bushels with skip-row corn over conventional corn and have measured similar responses with grain sorghum. Corn, grain sorghum, and sunflower are able to extract water from the 0- 150 cm soil profile, even at distances of 115 cm away from the planted crop row (the middle of the skip in a "plant 2 - skip 2" planting configuration). Stomatal conductance values indicate that this inter-row soil water availability leads to lower water stress during the critical flowering and grain-filling growth stages in "plant 1-skip 1" and "plant 2-skip 2" configurations, which should result in higher yields compared with a conventional configuration. Title: Quick methods for quality analysis of plant tissue (forage) and soil samples using infrared spectroscopy. Description of problem: Infrared spectroscopy techniques (NIR and FT-IR) have recently been used as a non-destructive method for the analysis of soil properties. However, the accuracy and reproducibility of this rapid, inexpensive infrared technology is not fully quantified and/or documented. Accomplishment: We found that infrared light can be used to quickly analyze nutritional properties of forages. This is relevant because forage quality affects the quality and productivity of the beef used by the consumer. Also this method is so much quicker then the wet chemistry methods that are in routine use for forage quality analysis. Title: Quanitification of soil physical quality as influenced by intensive no-till cropping. Description of problem: The quantification of how soil physical properties change under intensive no-till management may partially explain the yield enhancement observed with some of these no-till rotations. However much of the below ground physical properties of these soils has not been clearly defined. Accomplishement: In field research with long-term alternative crop rotations we found that increasing permanent vegetation and limiting wheel traffic improved the soil physical condition (reduced deep compaction) and resulted in greater crop yields. These changes took 10 to 15 years to develop. The research documents that wheel traffic and compaction issues are vital elements in designing long-term, sustainable, cropping systems. Significant Activities that Support Special Target Populations Significant activities that support special target populations: Nearly all of our research is designed and focused to help small farmers in the four state area known as the Central Great Plains region (CGPR). Eighty- five to ninety-five percent of all the producers we interact with are small farmers as identified by the USDA criteria of under $250,000 annual gross receipts. Nearly all of the above accomplishments support the special target population known as small farmers. Our research is directed specifically to their needs. A close relationship exists between the research conducted by the ARS station at Akron and the needs of the customers/farmers who are the recipients of the results of that research. The unit hosted two-three summer field days that boast as many as 350 in (total) attendance. (170-226 annual June spring field day, 40-80 Other Misc. field days). Nearly 80% of the attendees were producers. Other attendees were Ag consultants, Agri-business, NRCS and cooperative extension. We sponsored a winter tech-transfer meeting that had 370 in attendance from the four state Region (~90% in attendance are producers). In addition the unit scientists were invited to present at several other regional field days in the 4 state Region. This past year unit scientists participated in over 55 technology transfer events. This past December, 2006 we presented a summary of a our Alternative Crop Rotation Experiment to a group of farmers in Hill City, Kansas (sponsored by the Kansas Black Farmers Association). Feedback from the meeting organizers indicated that this presentation was well received and it is our hope this interaction will evolve into a long lasting relationship of value to the dryland producers in around the Hill City/Nicodemus community. Technology Transfer Number of Web Sites managed: 1 Number of Non-Peer Reviewed Presentations and Proceedings: 60 Number of Newspaper Articles,Presentations for NonScience Audiences: 2

Impacts
(N/A)

Publications

  • Benjamin, J.G., Mikha, M.M., Nielsen, D.C., Vigil, M.F., Calderon, F.J., Henry, W.B. 2007. Cropping Intensity Effects on Physical Properties of a No-till Silt Loam Soil. Soil Science Society of America Journal 71:1160- 1165.
  • Henry, W.B., Shaner, D.L., West, M.S. 2007. Shikimate accumulation in sunflower, wheat, and proso millet after glyphosate application. Weed Science 55:1-5.
  • Felter, D.G., Lyon, D.J., Nielsen, D.C., Baltensperger, D.D., Arkebauer, T. J. 2006. Evaluating crops for a flexible summer fallow cropping system. Agronomy Journal 98:1510-1517.
  • Lyon, D.J., Nielsen, D.C., Felter, D.G., Burgener, P.A. 2007. Choice of Summer Fallow Replacement Crops Impacts Subsequent Winter Wheat. Agronomy Journal 99:578-584.
  • Gaines, T., Preston, C., Byrne, P., Henry, W.B., Westra, P. 2007. Adventitious presence of herbicide resistant wheat in certified and farm- saved seed lots. Crop Science. 47:749-754.
  • Shaner, D.L., Henry, W.B. 2007. Field History and Dissipation of Atrazine and Metolachlor in Colorado. Journal of Environmental Quality. Volume 36:pp 128-134
  • Acosta Martinez, V., Mikha, M.M., Vigil, M.F. 2007. Microbial communities and enzyme activities in soils under alternative crop rotations compared to wheat-fallow for the Central Great Plains. Applied Soil Ecology. 37:41- 52.


Progress 10/01/05 to 09/30/06

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? This project is aligned with National program 202 Soil Resource management. In the central Great Plains region (CGPR), 27 million acres are cultivated dryland. The predominant crop rotation for the CGPR is winter wheat-summer fallow (W-F). The WF system degrades soil quality, promotes soil erosion, and is not economically or environmentally sustainable. Degradation of the regions soil resource with WF reduces the future productivity of the areas land base. Our region was the source of the infamous Dust Bowls of the 1930s and 1950s. Soils of the Great Plains have been degrading since the initiation of farming with tillage in the early 1900s. Because of tillage and summer- fallow, soil organic matter has declined 50%, which reduces soil productivity, precipitation storage efficiency and crop water use efficiency. Objectives: Overall Project Goal: Develop long-term sustainable soil and crop management practices for the CGPR and identify technologies that maximize the use of the regions soil and water resources with minimal negative environmental impact. 1.Develop sustainable soil, nutrient and water conservation technologies for dryland cropping systems of the CGPR that improve water and nutrient use efficiency and maintain/improve desirable soil physical and chemical properties (sequester C and improve soil quality). 2.Quantify microbial plant associations and their effects on plant productivity in no-till dryland cropping systems. 3. Develop BMP for remediation/restoration of degraded soils in the CGPR. 4. Develop holistic ecological BMP for controlling weed infestations in alternative dryland cropping systems. The goals are to minimize summer- fallow, protect the soil resource, generate profits for producers, and minimize the probability of drought-induced crop failure. The work is relevant to the producers/people in the CGPR, but has national and international relevance to other semi-arid regions of the U. S. and around the World. The CGPR is the center of the wheat belt of the U.S. and so the work is important to anyone who eats bread. The impact of the adoption of the technology developed through this rotation research on grain yield increase and more efficient agri-chemical usage is calculated to be an economic benefit of ~$31,250,000 to $150,000,000 region wide per year assuming 25% adoption by farmers. 2. List by year the currently approved milestones (indicators of research progress) Year 1 (FY 2006) 1.Compile multiple years of alternative crop rotation yield data. Perform statistical and economic analysis for preliminary publication of spreadsheet decision aids for distribution to producers. 2. Collect water use and yield data for canola, mustard and camelina. 3. Calibrate and validate models of proso millet and sunflower growth and development, water use and yield. 4. Establish millet-wheat rotation plots for evaluating reported allelopathic effects of millet on wheat stand establishment. Collect preliminary soil and previous crop yields in plot area. 5. Assess initial conditions for long term no-till experiments, apply initial soil treatments. 6. Analyze non instrumented yield data from preliminary skip-row corn and sorghum plots. Establish new skip-row plots for corn, sorghum and sunflower with neutron access tubes for soil water monitoring and temperature thermister for monitoring canopy temperatures during the season. 7. Establish plots for evaluating effects of tillage frequency on CO2 flux. Conduct preliminary sample collection. 8. Sample existing rotations plots to quantify microbial plant associations and their effects on plant productivity in no-till dryland cropping systems. 9. Initiate experiments for determining if diffuse reflectance infrared can be used to detect important soil and root biological and chemical properties. Obtain soil and root samples from the field experiments analyzing for compositional parameters of interest. 10. Establish plots for quantifying the remediation of eroded soils with manure amendment combined with intensive no-till management and legume/grass mixtures. 11. Collect data and prepare manuscripts addressing gene flow from herbicide tolerant wheat to other wheat varieties and jointed goat grass. Present shikamate data at national meetings and publish preliminary shikamate data. Year 2 (FY 2007) 1. Prepare rotation effect manuscript. Develop enterprise budgets. Begin implementation of recent developments in better agronomic practices into current study (skip-row plots). 2. Collect second year of water use and yield data, process first years data. 3. Validate model results of cropping systems that include wheat, corn, millet and sunflower. Publish millet and sunflower model results. 4. Second year sample collection, compile first year data, perform statistical analysis, create tables and figures of year one data. 5. Assess initial treatments, conduct preliminary analysis of first year results. Fine tune or adjust treatments if needed, based on first year data. 6. Repeat second year of field research, make measurements, analyze first years results. 7. Second year sample collection, compile data from year one and perform statistical analysis, create tables and figures of year one data. 8. Second year sample collection, compile data from year one and perform statistical analysis, create tables and figures of year one data. 9. Continue sample collection and FT-IR scanning. Compile data from year one. 10. Second year sample collection, compile data from year one and perform statistical analysis, create tables and figures of year one data. 11. Compile data for atrazine degredation study, present data at field days and submit publications regarding gene flow of herbicide resistant wheat into weed and non- herbicide resistant wheat populations. Year 3 (FY 2008) 1. Publish Rotation effect manuscript. Prepare enterprise budget manuscript. 2. Process second years data, prepare manuscript, select next set of candidate crops. 3. Run long term simulations for selected cropping systems using weather data form across CGPR. Create a data base of results. Publish cropping system modeling results. 4. Third year sample collection, compile data and perform statistical analysis, create tables and figures of the two years of data. 5. Continue experiment, conduct statistical analysis, prepare preliminary results for presentation at national meetings. 6. Repeat third year of field research, make measurements, analyze first 2 years results. Prepare preliminary manuscript for publication as a proceedings paper. 7. Third year sample collection, compile data from year one and perform statistical analysis, create tables and figures of year one data. 8. Third year sample collection, compile data from year one and perform statistical analysis, create tables and figures of year one data. 9. Draft and submit first manuscript, present data at regional and national meetings. Continue sample collection, compile data for follow-up manuscripts. 10. Summarize first two years of data and prepare proceedings paper for Great Plains soil fertility conference. 11. Field test kits evaluated for utility in detecting herbicide resistant weeds and for evaluating the presence of atrazine degrading microbes populations. Year 4 (FY 2009) 1. Publish economic enterprise budgets. Determine which rotations to eliminate and which new ones to add. 2. Publish manuscript, collect first years data on second set of crops. 3. Prepare user friendly interface for data base for customer use. Publish results of regional simulations. 4. Publish recommendations and continue with experiment. 5. Prepare draft of first manuscripts. 6. Prepare first draft of refereed journal manuscript. Make first set of recommendations to producers at regional/local meetings. Establish new plots for follow-up research with respect to optimal fertilizer application if needed. 7. Create tables and figures of CO2 tillage relationships, begin preparation of manuscript. 8. Publish recommendations and continue with new experiments. Design follow up research if needed. 9. Draft first manuscript, re-evaluate collected data sets for follow- up research. 10. Draft first journal manuscript. Present and publish preliminary recommendations for customers. 11. Prepare manuscript of herbicide application history with respect to atrazine degradation rate. Continue to test shikamate analysis field kits. Year 5 (FY 2010) 1. Publish recommendations and continue with new rotations and new agronomic practices. Preliminary evaluation of new agronomic practices and rotations. 2. Collect second year data on second set of crops, and process first years data. 3. Distribute user-friendly interface database to customers. 4. Complete first draft of manuscript of field study. 5. Prepare first draft of manuscript for refereed journal and prepare fact sheet for producers use. Make recommendations on soil management to maximize soil productivity. 6. Prepare final summaries of work on the three crops as fact sheets for producer use. Continue with follow-up research. 7. Prepare refereed journal manuscript on CO2 flux and soil properties. Make recommendations based on findings of four-year field study. Continue with follow-up experiment if needed. 8. Continue with new experiments if needed. 9. Design new studies from data gaps discovered in prior years. 10. Submit manuscript to refereed journal on findings of 4-year study. 11. Prepare additional manuscript of residue study and design alternations of future experiments, as needed, based on findings. 4a List the single most significant research accomplishment during FY 2006. This project is aligned with National program 202 Soil Resource management. Distribution of water use production function data in a user-friendly format. Water use/yield production functions were programmed into an Excel spreadsheet for 16 dryland crops with weather data from 15 central Great Plains locations. The spreadsheet is user friendly and easy to work with and allows the user to estimate dryland crop yields based on a soil-water content measurement (or estimation) and from a prediction of precipitation for the cropping season. The spreadsheet includes an archive of precipitation data for the various locations and also includes an estimation of soil water storage for different soil textures. Using these archived data sets, the user can easily estimate yields for a given location and given time period. Nearly 500 copies have been distributed on CD to producers in the CGPR. The spreadsheet allows farmers to easily and quickly estimate crop yields based on estimated soil water and precipitation. 4b List other significant research accomplishment(s), if any. This project is aligned with National Program 202 Soil Resource Management. Topic of study: Soil compaction. Soil compaction occurs when farm implement traffic compresses soil. We have shown that soil compaction can cause up to 15 bu/ac wheat yield decline, in our environment, if high loads are applied to the soil during unfavorable soil conditions. We have shown that using lighter implements with lower tire pressures can minimize the adverse effects of traffic on soil compaction and help maintain the soil in its most productive condition. We determined that under field conditions atrazine is rapidly degraded by microbes. This phenomenon is related to the field's herbicide use history further demonstrating the necessity of crop rotation and specifically, herbicide mode of action rotation. Further studies on this topic will examine soils from various depths in the field to determine if previous research on microbial herbicide degradation underestimates what is actually happening. We found that intensive cropping with reduced fallow frequency resulted in an increase in soil organic matter, which leads to improved soil microbial functioning. Our results showed that soil enzyme activities were more sensitive to rotation management history and cropping intensity than previously thought. We found the skip-row technique for dryland row cropping is consistent in improving corn and sorghum grain yields in the dryer portions of the region. It appears that if the historic yield potentials are in the 40-75 bushel yield range the skip-row method will enhance no-till dryland corn yields. At yields between 80 and 90 bushel the method neither increases or decreases yield. 4c List significant activities that support special target populations. Significant activities that support special target populations: Nearly all of our research is designed and focused to help small farmers in the four state area known as the Central Great Plains region (CGPR). Eighty- five to Nighty-five percent of all the producers we interact with are small farmers as identified by the USDA criteria of under $250,000 annual gross receipts. Nearly all of the above accomplishments support the special target population known as small farmers. Our research is directed specifically to their needs. A close relationship exists between the research conducted by the ARS station at Akron and the needs of the customers/farmers who are the recipients of the results of that research. The unit hosts two-three summer field days that boast as many as 350 in (total) attendance. (170-226 annual spring June field day, 40-80 Other Misc. field days). Nearly 80% of the attendees are producers. Other attendees are Ag consultants, Agri-business, NRCS and cooperative extension. We sponsor a winter tech-transfer meeting that had 370 in attendance from the four state region (~90% in attendance are producers). In addition the units scientists are invited to present at several other regional field days in the 4 state region. This past year unit scientists participated in over 50 technology transfer events. This past July, 2006 we presented a summary of a our Alternative Crop Rotation experiment to a group of farmers in Nicodemus Kansas (sponsored by the Kansas Black Farmers Association). Feed back form the meeting organizers indicated that this presentation was well received and it is our hope this interaction will evolve into a long lasting relationship of value to the dryland producers in around the Hill City/Nicodemus community. 5. Describe the major accomplishments to date and their predicted or actual impact. The Research at Akron fits under ARS Strategic Plan: Goal 1 objective 1. 2: contribute to the efficiency of agricultural production systems, and performance measure 1.2.1 Provide producers with scientific information and technology that increases production efficiency. The work also fits under Goal 5: Protect and enhance the Nations natural Resource base and environment With objective 5.2 Provide Science based knowledge and education to improve quality of management of Soil Air and Water Resources and Performance measure 5.2.2 Develop agricultural practices that maintain or enhance soil resources. In the region we have measured a 60 fold (estimated 25,000 acres to over 2 million in the last 15 years) increase in the adoption of alternative cropping systems developed at USDA-ARS Akron and cooperating university scientist in the region. Most of that growth has happened during the years 1995-2002. Why is that important? The new systems developed at Akron sequester soil C, increase soil organic matter, improve soil quality and improve farm income by increasing the number of marketable crops per unit time above that obtained in the old WF system. Milestone 1 through Milestone 3 of our old project plan were directed at getting information to producers, the public and into refereed journal articles on a timely basis (see pages 14- 15 of old project plan). Those milestones were fully to substantially met this past 60 months. That effort combined with the technology transfer activities of the unit has resulted in the adoption of the new systems by farmers in the region. The further adoption of the new alternative systems developed at USDA-ARS-CGPRS Akron requires the adoption of alternative row-crops: dryland corn, sorghum and sunflower, and others. The Akron team has just recently experimenting (2004-2005) with new techniques that we believe will stabilize the yields of the newer intensive alternative systems that incorporate three dryland row crops (skip-row). We are confident this adjustment in management will reinvigorate the increased adoption of the alternative systems. More recent work has refined our quantitative understanding of water use and nutrient requirements by these alternative crops. Also refined have been techniques for improving precipitation use efficiency utilizing residue management in no-till systems. Simulation modeling of what we think we know has become the most recent effort. In this modeling effort we have formulated our current knowledge, into mathematically predictive tools. These predictive tools (simulation models and user friendly yield calculators which utilize spreadsheet software) are being used and developed to help guide future research and will be used to develop annual-crop-management decision aids to guide producers. Impact: Alternative systems developed show a net farm income increase with bio-productivity almost doubling in continuous cropping as compared to the W-F system. Improvements in soil quality occur only if fallow is eliminated but those benefits have been documented in publications (2002- 2005) to include increases in soil organic matter, greater C sequestration, improvements in micronutrient plant availability and improvements in soil aggregate stability which impacts soil erodibility. Crop rotations designed around a 4-6 year cycle with 3 or more different crops allows producers to accrue the ecological benefits of the rotation effect. Introducing crop diversity into rotations breaks weed, disease and insect cycles. Crop diversity changes water use and nutrient cycling rates and amounts in the soil. These effects reduce the need for additional agricultural-chemical input and boost yields. If producers in the CGPR use cropping systems that crop 85% of the land, agricultural products from an additional 7 million acres will be added to the rural economy (W-F uses only 50% of the cultivated farm land because 50% is fallow). 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 transferred in 2006: Technology is currently being transferred to farmer/producers by annual field days conducted in all four states (see comment under 4-C above), scientist participation in producer workshops, extension meetings, ARS sponsored MEY meetings, regional technology transfer events in all four states and one on one calls and visits with producers (about 5-10 per week). Much of the research advancement is available to the producers while it is being published in peer-reviewed journals, or as fact sheets (They see it at a field day). We do not prefer that to happen and would hope adoption would only come after peer review, but they know what will work as well as we do. Some times the producers are already on the leading edge of what will work. They just do not have all the numbers yet. That is where ARS can help by taking the risk in field experiments so our producers do not have to. ARS can try things that might work (experiments). The farmers do not have to lose money on an idea that may not work, if we try it first on the research farm, and document the cost/benefits of the idea. Our Unit is closely aligned with several organizations of progressive producers CCTA, No-till on the Plains, Colorado Association of Wheat Growers, Akron MEY club, Scott City No-till group, several others. We help organize the Colorado Conservation tillage associations (CCTA) annual winter meetings, and for each of the last 10 years, 2 or more of our scientist will present formal research information at that winter meeting (three are scheduled to present this coming year). The location is also actively involved with presenting at other university ag-experiment station field days in Kansas, Nebraska and Colorado. Unit scientists are actively involved with on farm research trials near Scott City, Kansas and at several locations in Eastern Colorado and in Nebraska. The unit does cooperative field experimentation in Kansas, at Tribune, Colby and Hays, Kansas, and at Scottsbluff, Nebraska. We maintain a WEB site for producers to access our research reports and current articles about unique research findings. Our unit has written 17 Fact Sheets in the last 5 years, highlighting our research findings. Over 5000 copies of several of the Fact Sheets has been distributed to the public. The main constraints for producers to adopt the new technology including alternative cropping systems or other management technology being developed are: (1) a lack of markets/price supports for alternative crops. (2) financing/risk (3) banker education is still an issue in most parts of the region. We have been fortunate this past year to be working with a progressive bank in Scott City Kansas that is promoting the results of Akron-ARS rotation research to producers in the Scott City Kansas (because it makes money). His best producers have adopted much of the technology that we have been developing over the years with respect to intensive no-till rotations. Showing the enhanced net return benefits of a new technology to other bankers in the region facilitates the financing of farmers interested in adopting the new technology. In the CGPR as a whole it has been more difficult for a producer to convince his banker of a new idea. Unfortunately, the new alternative systems require some upfront investment. (4) on farm technology transfer: Much of the newer alternative systems or management technology developed at the station requires more knowledge about either crops, markets, agri-chemicals, or additional agronomics. Having the research idea demonstrated, on a farm field scale, on producers land, has greater transfer impact than doing it on the research station. 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). Popular Articles: None Proceedings: None Presentations: Vigil, M.F. Skip-row planting in the CGPR as a drought mitigation strategy. World congress of soil science. 50 attended. July 2006. Philadelphia, PA. Mikha, M.M. Cropping Intensity and tillage affect on carbon sequestration and Enzyme Activities. World congress of soil science. 50 attended. July 2006. Philadelphia, PA. Vigil, M.F. Alternative crop rotation research at Akron, Colorado: Lessons in precipitation use efficiency. Kansas Black Farmers Association meeting. July 27, 2006. Hill City, KS. 100 in Attendance. Vigil, M.F. Research update of the USDA-ARS Central Great Plains Research Station. Tear Down the Walls meeting in Scottsbluff, NE. Aug. 9, 2006 Vigil, M.F. Optimum rates for fertilizing dryland wheat. Leon Kreisle Field Day. Gurley, NE. Aug 8, 2006. 40 attended. Vigil, M.F. Skip-row corn on farm trials. Scott City, KS. Aug. 24, 2006. 40 attended. Vigil, M.F. Alternative dryland cropping system opportunities. Nebraska Ag Business Association Meeting. Nroth Patte, NE. Aug. 23, 2006. 100 attended. Vigil, M.F., Nielsen, D.C. Dryland ag research and alternative crop rotation research studies. No-till Kansas Farmer group. July 31, 2006. 35 attended. Henry, W.B. Dryland ag research and alternative crop rotation research studies. No-till Kansas Farmer group. July 31, 2006. 35 attended. Benjamin, J.G. The cost of compaction. Local farmers from Yuma and Washington counties. 14 attended. 8/9/2006. Calderon, F.J. Diffuse reflectance Mid-IR and NIR spectroscopic properties of mycorrhizal and non-mycorrhizal roots. Presented at the (FACSS) Federation of Analytical Chemistry and Spectroscopy Societies National Meeting for the Society for Applied Spectroscopy Sept. 24-28, 2006. Lake Buena Vista, FL. Benjamin, F.G. Delayed irrigation effects on crop productivity. Colorado Water Tour. Six Scientists and technical staff from CSU. Aug. 15, 2006. Akron, Colo. Vigil, M.F. Alternative cropping practices, managing water factors and drought mitigation research. Summer Convention of the Nebraska Agri- Business Association. Aug. 23, 2006 North Platte, NE. 50 attended.

Impacts
(N/A)

Publications

  • Mikha, M.M., Rice, C.W., Benjamin, J.G. 2006. Estimating soil mineralizable Nitrogen under different management practices. Soil Science Society of America Journal.70:1522-1531.
  • Mikha, M.M., Acosta Martinez, V., Vigil, M.F. 2006. Cropping intensity and tillage affects on carbon sequestration and enzyme activities. Meeting of the 18th World Congress of Soil Science. July 9-15, 2006. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
  • Calderon, F.J., Acosta Martinez, V. 2006. Diffuse-Reflectance Mid-IR and NIR Spectroscopic Properties of Mycorrhizal and Non-mycorrhizal roots. Meeting Abstract. Federation of Analytical Chemistry and Spectroscopy (FACSS) National Meeting for the Society for Applied Spectroscopy. Sept. 24-28, 2006. Lake Buena Vista, FL.