LRES M.S. Thesis Defense: Kristi D'Agati
- Monday, September 21, 2020 at 9:00am
- Plant Biosciences Building, WebEx - view map
Soil Response to Long Term Multispecies Cover Crop Mixes and Aboveground Biomass in the Semi-arid Northern Great Plains
Growing crops in the northern Great Plains (NGP) poses a unique set of issues when trying to transition to more sustainable agriculture practices. With annual precipitation mostly ranging from 300 mm – 500 mm and dramatic annual variation and prolonged hot dry summer periods, management strategies that conserve soil moisture are imperative for NGP producers (Padbury et al. 2002). A wheat – fallow rotation, a common dryland cropping system, conserves soil water during the fallow year but can have negative impacts for soil quality (Campbell et al., 1991). My research investigates cover crop mixes as a partial summer fallow replacement strategy, with three different questions. First, how does the biomass production differ among cover crop mixes that have varying functional group compositions. Second, what are the effects on soil biological parameters of those same cover crop mixes after four wheat/cover crop rotations, and lastly, what are the effects of cover crop termination strategies on soil biological parameters. This research highlights 1) the difficulty of measuring responses in soil biological parameters, even after four cover crop rotations, in semi-arid systems, likely due to the low biomass production, and the relatively short length of cover crop growth, and 2) the potential tradeoffs for producers to adopt methods that logically should increase soil quality but practically, may not have immediate measurable effects.
Space is limited, please join online at:
- Department of Land Resources and Environmental Sciences