Soil Science

Soil science research and extension programming at the SWROC focuses on water and nutrient management in agricultural systems. The purpose of our research is to improve agricultural management practices and productivity while protecting and improving the quality of the soil, air, and water.

Our field-based research aims to develop integrated water and nutrient management solutions for crop and livestock producers. Such solutions will reduce offsite nutrient mobility and improve water and nutrient use efficiency and crop yield.

At the University of Minnesota, soil science is based in the Department of Soil, Water and Climate. SWROC soil scientists collaborate statewide with colleagues throughout the University of Minnesota system as well as researchers at other universities and institutions. We also work with producers, agencies, communities, and resource advisors to deliver research-based education that increases knowledge and provides management solutions.

waterAgricultural water management

This research looks at agricultural drainage and water and nutrient management in agricultural systems. All projects address production needs and quantify and mitigate negative off-site environmental impacts. We combine agronomic, ecological, and engineering approaches to guide soil and water resource management decisions.

SWROC agricultural water management and conservation projects include:

  • Drainage water management
  • Cropping system impacts and interactions on soil and water
    • Conventional, unrestricted drainage
    • Managed drainage (aka controlled drainage)
    • Subirrigation
    • Crop rotation
    • Tillage management
  • Climate and Corn-based Cropping Systems CAP (CSCAP)

Nutrient management

This research investigates nutrient availability to plants and nutrient use efficiency. Our projects focus on the interactions between soil fertility and microbial activity and how these interactions affect crop growth and yield.

SWROC nutrient management projects investigate:

  • Phosphorus behavior in soils
  • Different rates of application of nitrogen, phosphorus and sulfur
  • Residue management strategies

Long-Term Agricultural Research Network (LTARN)

This project consists of three locations (Lamberton, Waseca, and Grand Rapids) that are designed and managed identically across the network. The network approach allows for a rigorous understanding of physical, chemical, biological, social, and economic processes over time and space.

The LTARN model emphasizes food, fiber, energy, biomaterials, and health for human sustenance and the use of short- and intermediate-term experiments to address long-term goals.

Current cropping systems include:

  • corn/soybean
  • corn/soybean/wheat
  • corn/corn/alfalfa/alfalfa/alfalfa
  • silage corn + pennycress/soybean
  • corn/soybean + cover crop
  • grass-based polyculture

Research Program Contacts