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Nitrogen Cycle Budget for a Dryland Wheat Cropping System


Our highlight is the initial development of a comprehensive nitrogen, carbon and water budget for the Cook Agronomy Farm which provides an intersection of research programs involving a number of NSPIRE students as well as students involved in our Regional Approaches for Climate Change (REACCH) USDA program. During the past year, NSPIRE students Brown, Kelley, Martin, Moon and Waldo helped coordinate a large faculty/student effort to develop a comprehensive Nitrogen, Carbon, and Water budget for CAF which will be the first detailed budget of this type for dryland cereal cropping systems. The initial results, based on 10 yrs of data and presented for the NSPIRE poster competition, shows that as much as 30% of the N inputs cannot yet be accounted for in N losses due to harvest, leaching, or air emissions. The result emphasizes the need for a much more interdisciplinary effort to document and understand all aspects of the N cycle in this highly managed ecosystem.

Address Goals

Understanding N cycling in agricultural lands is a central part of the Grand Challenge of Nitrogen in the environment. The preliminary N budget, particularly when coupled with parallel carbon and water budget analyses, highlights areas where critical new information is needed and where there are important opportunities for improved management strategies.