Crop residues like corn stover and cover crop remaining on the land is capable of maintain soil organic carbon, sustaining their production. But, what is needed is to know the amount of these residues actually needed to maintain the required carbon.
And, to determine the amount, the Agricultural Research Service – or USDA ARS – of the US Department of Agriculture has taken up a five-year project.
To make an estimation of the residue-amount required for maintaining soil organic carbon as well as productivity, the Renewable Energy Assessment Project (REAP) was initiated last year to run through 2011. This project has undertaken a series of experiments to make the estimation. And, from Alabama to Indiana to Oregon, nine ARS locations are participating in the REAP in eight different states.
The projects are conducted under various environmental conditions and focus on factors like tillage and residue removal. The experiments will be measuring various elements like biomass production, grain yield, and change in soil organic carbon.
Thus, these natural renewable sources used for maintaining soil organic carbon as well as sustaining their production will not just relieve the environment of chemical-use, but also the region’s agriculture from increased economic investment.
Picture Credit: ars.usda.gov