Seminar: LAAS Graduate Student Lightning Talks (Hybrid)

Wednesday, December 8, 2021 | 4 PM

Influence of Irrigation and Nitrogen Management on Corn Yield, Water and Nitrogen Use Efficiency and Nitrate Leaching in Minnesota

Andrea Elvir Flores

PhD student advised by Drs. Vasudha SharmaFabián Fernández, and Yuxin Miao

The environmental impact of irrigated agriculture on ground and surface water resources in Minnesota is of major concern. High rates of groundwater withdrawals for irrigation can damage nearby lakes and streams and nitrate leaching into groundwater poses threat to groundwater quality for drinking. Research that integrates nitrogen (N) and irrigation management, and that evaluates the interaction of these two variables on crop yield and nitrate leaching has been lacking for decades in this region. The main goal of this research is to investigate the interaction of different irrigation and N rates on nitrate leaching, evapotranspiration, corn yield, and water and N use efficiency in coarse-textured soils to develop best management practices aimed at creating resilient agricultural systems that optimize corn production and groundwater usage and minimize nitrate leaching. A field research study is being conducted in the Sand Plain Research Farm at Becker, Minnesota, and Herman Rosholt farm in Westport, Minnesota which is situated in the heart of irrigated acres. We will evaluate the effect of four irrigation levels (full irrigation (FI), i.e., imposing no water stress on the crop, 75% of FI, 50% of FI and rainfed conditions) and six nitrogen rates (0, 78, 157, 235, 314 and 392 kg/ha) on corn production and nitrate leaching. The outcomes of this project will help us develop best irrigation and nitrogen combination practices for the sandy outwash plains of Minnesota and will promote the adoption of best management practices, inform, and educate farmers, extension educators, crop consultants, government agency personnel and the general public through demonstration field days, extension conferences, and trainings.

Mountain Smallholder Agriculture: Coffee Agro-ecosystems From Indigenous Perspectives

Azucena Sierra Garcia

Master's student advised by Drs. Kyungsoo Yoo and Julie Grossman

Coffee is one of the most heavily consumed commodities around the world. Around 400 billion cups are consumed each year (Adhikari et al., 2020; Hunt et al., 2020). $30 billion were generated by trading coffee in 2019, and coffee is the 122nd most traded product. Being one of the ten largest coffee producers (OEC, 2021), Mexico generated an income of $347 million annually through exporting coffee. But, since 2006, smallholders of coffee in Mexico have struggled with the 50% decrease in coffee production due to the disease known as coffee leaf rust (CLR). Weak plants and eroded soils have contributed to decreasing the amount of coffee production, affecting many smallholders' farm income. In Mexico alone, 178,687 smallholders depend on coffee production systems, and almost 66.5% of them are Indigenous people (SAGARPA, 2017). Despite their importance for global food production and local subsistence, smallholders of coffee are the most vulnerable to landscape degradation through soil erosion, nutrient scarcity, and drought.

This talk will focus on my research thesis project that evaluates the effect of topography and the relationship between coffee production systems and soil health. I’ll talk about what implies research on indigenous landscapes in a wide range of climate and geological conditions in Mexico: Huatusco, Veracruz and Pluma Hidalgo, Oaxaca. In those central regions of Mexico, where steep hillslopes in the mountainous terrains challenge farming activities, coffee production plays a critical role in supporting smallholders and Indigenous people. Focusing on those regions into studying biophysical conditions and management types of coffee production will help create important impacts on balancing the needs to improve smallholders' coffee production and sustaining soil health.

Show me the data! Empowering conservation champions with innovative real-time soil metrics

Madeline Vogel

Master's student advised by Drs. Anna Cates and Vasudha Sharma

Soil moisture and temperature are the key factors of agricultural management as they dictate planting schedules, crop development, and the timing of field operations.  With global temperatures on the rise, it has become increasingly important to understand how soil health management principles including minimizing soil disturbance, maximizing soil cover, maximizing plant diversity, maximizing presence of living plants/roots, and integrating livestock, can be used to enrich the health and resiliency of soils.  The Show Me the Data research project specifically examines 30 fields across the upper Mississippi River Basin, 18 farms in Minnesota, and 12 in Wisconsin.  The three main objectives of this research are: 1) demonstrate how the soil health management systems (SHMS) influences infiltration, water holding capacity, leaching potential, aggregate stability, and other dynamic soil properties critical to climate resiliency and nutrient transport; 2) equip farmers with real-time management assessment technology (i.e., remote sensing, soil sensors) to provide in-season feedback on how their fields are functioning within a SHMS to better inform in-season management decisions to reduce compaction, improve water and nutrient use efficiency, and increase profitability – while guiding their long-term management strategy and 3) empower farmer cooperators to share their conservation experience and data to increase overall conservation awareness in the upper Mississippi River Basin.