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Study Reveals Impact of Farming Practices on Water and Carbon Variability in Missouri Agriculture Ecosystems
Missouri Ag Connection - 06/08/2023

A recent study conducted by the University of Missouri and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) sheds light on the link between water and carbon cycles in Missouri agriculture ecosystems and their implications for crop resilience.

The research aimed to identify sustainable farming practices that can help staple crops like corn and soybeans thrive amidst increasingly common extreme weather conditions in the Midwest.

The study compared three ecosystems: a conventional tilled cropping system, an aspirational no-till cropping system with cover crops, and a native tallgrass prairie ecosystem. By analyzing water and carbon fluxes, the researchers discovered interesting patterns.

The native prairie exhibited higher rates of evapotranspiration compared to the tilled cropping system, but the difference was minimal when compared to the no-till cropping system. Additionally, both cropping systems showed higher levels of plant growth (carbon uptake) than the native prairie.

The findings indicate that the tilled cropping system is most sensitive to environmental changes, while the native prairie demonstrates greater resilience to extreme weather conditions. The no-till system, with its diverse crop rotation, exhibits variable rates of evapotranspiration, attributed to agricultural management strategies.

Understanding variable evapotranspiration rates is crucial for predicting crop water and carbon uptake, especially as extreme weather worsens. Planting a diversified rotation of crops over the long term can enhance environmental resistance and support crop adaptation in the face of climate fluctuations.

The study, published in Agriculture and Forest Meteorology, is a collaborative effort within the Long-Term Agroecosystem Research (LTAR) network, supported by the USDA

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