Farmers in the United States are expressing increasing interest in soil health. Soil health is a generalized concept based on improving soil quality and the idea that soils containing functionally diverse biota will produce healthier, more resilient plants. Soil health is being heavily promoted by USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service, and many farmers are adopting soil health practices on their farms to try to build biological diversity and function in their soils. These same farmers interested in soil health, however, typically continue to use preventative pest management tactics without recognizing that pesticides, particularly insecticides and fungicides, will limit some of the biological activity that they are trying to build in their soil. Recent research has revealed significant non-target effects of preventative insecticide and fungicides, which inadvertently limit the abundance and function of beneficial soil-borne organisms. Our research will fill a key knowledge gap by quantitatively assessing the influence of pest management tactics on soil quality over time. We will also assess the influence of perennial hay and cover crops on establishing soil quality and then track how soil quality and biological function vary in a typical field-crop rotation depending on intensity of pest management. Our proposal aligns very well with goal of the 'Foundational Knowledge of Agricultural Production Systems' program to '...address critical or process-limiting dynamics that occur among and within the various management components of the production system.' Moreover, our objectives clearly fit the research priority to 'Investigate how changes in production system management or biodiversity affect soil health.'
|Effective start/end date||3/21/17 → 6/30/21|
- National Institute of Food and Agriculture: $461,187.00