Cropping System Management and Interactions

Agricultural production is profoundly affected by uncontrollable environmental conditions. Precipitation and temperature weather extremes cause variations in crop yields, affecting not only crop growth but also crop prices and farm revenue. Climate variability, characterized by wetter springs and drier summers pose challenges to agricultural production and will require farmers to consider/reconsider cropping systems that are resilient to periods of water stress, both wet and dry, sometimes occurring during the same growing season. Prolonged periods of low rainfall, especially during sensitive growth phases, is one of the primary reasons that crops fall short of their yield potential. In contrast, prolonged periods of rainfall result in soil waterlogging or ponding. Excess water during sensitive growth phases can delay seedling emergence, favor the incidence and spread of crop disease, or in extreme cases prove lethal for the whole plant.

Our long-term goal is to advance knowledge and implementation of management practices that result in long-term resilience and sustainable crop production systems. Our intermediate-term goal is to enhance yield stability and increase soil and plant resilience to drought and excess soil moisture conditions through diversification. Our short-term goal is to understand and quantify plant reactions and soil biophysical mechanisms of increasing rotational complexity on plant stress, soil aggregation, soil carbon cycling, and water quality in the upper Midwest U.S.