Establishing climate-friendly agricultural practices – News Center

Wednesday, Dec 14, 2022 • Linsey Retcofsky :

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A multi-agency research team led by the University of Texas at Arlington is making efforts to provide resources to small and underserved farmers in Texas, Arkansas and Missouri to improve the sustainability of their soybean production.

Woo-Suk Chang, associate professor of biology, and collaborators from Texas A&M AgriLife, Tarleton State University and the University of Missouri received a nearly $5 million grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to partner for climate-friendly… Raw materials to establish climate-friendly agricultural practices to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and increase soybean production.

“Agribusiness will soon lead the fight against climate change,” Chang said. “Over the past 20 years, advances in plant breeding and organic soil amendments have enabled sustainable and regenerative agriculture to play a more prominent role in the fight against the destruction of our planet.”

To strengthen efficient and sustainable soybean production, researchers will work with farmers to combine new techniques and innovative pilot projects, including:

  • No-till farming – On heavily erodible soils or soils with steep slopes, tillage can lead to soil degradation and nutrient losses. To positively impact soil health, researchers will incentivize farmers to switch to no-till to preserve below-ground and above-ground carbon storage.
  • cover crops – Researchers will study localized cover crop strategies to show farmers the multiple benefits of adopting climate-friendly practices. With the advice of local soil scientists, they use catch crop mixtures that are adapted to the respective soil type and the moisture profile of the respective location.
  • Climate-friendly soy varieties – University of Missouri researchers have developed a comprehensive, multidisciplinary action plan to accelerate the development of climate-friendly soybean varieties that tolerate flooding or drought. In order to increase the competitiveness of the climate-friendly soybean varieties, extensive field trials will be conducted to evaluate the yield and potential yield loss related to the tolerance trait in environments without adverse conditions.
  • crop rotation – Crop rotation can achieve sustainable soil health, optimize biodiversity and prevent soil erosion. Researchers will develop and identify the most optimal diversified crop rotation methods; Identification of cover crops suitable for Texas, Arkansas and Missouri; and integrate climate-friendly soybeans into the diversified crop rotation.
  • bio vaccines – With climate variability such as drought events having the greatest negative impact on biological nitrogen fixation, the availability of drought-tolerant bio-inoculants as part of a climate-friendly commodity package is a fundamental weapon against climate change.
  • biochar – As a soil amendment, biochar’s high surface area and porous structure can enhance water-holding capacity and provide protection for nutrients, biological and organic materials from harsh abiotic conditions. In this project, biochar is proposed as a cost-effective and sustainable solution to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural fields.

“Sustainable production systems that strengthen economies and strengthen human health are cornerstones of our research companies,” said Cliff Lamb, Ph.D., director of AgriLife Research. “This grant will help Texas A&M AgriLife produce unique and novel biochar materials with a focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions while improving drought tolerance in multiple environments.”

Fourteen soybean producers from the three states have agreed to participate in the research team’s proposed climate-friendly practices. They were selected based on conservation programs established by the USDA’s National Resources Conservation Service. These programs focus on socially disadvantaged, beginning, resource-constrained and experienced farmers to provide agricultural assistance. The intention of this recruitment is to attract small and underserved producers and to bring about climate friendly changes in agriculture by encouraging the acceptance of innovative agricultural practices.

Outreach and training is provided by specialists and consultants to provide a solid foundation for success in the diverse environments that have been pledged to the climate friendly agriculture initiatives. By providing climate-smart commodity packages, financial incentives, and the ability to collect carbon credits, the researchers expect to garner a growing list of producers in all three and neighboring states looking to adopt the innovative climate-smart practices.

This project is one of 141 projects funded by USDA’s Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities, part of a more than $3.1 billion investment. Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities works to expand markets for American producers that produce climate-smart commodities that harness the greenhouse gas benefits of climate-smart manufacturing and provide meaningful benefits to producers, including small and underserved producers.

“Expanding opportunities for small and underserved producers is a key goal of Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities,” said Robert Bonnie, USDA undersecretary for agricultural production and conservation. “Small and underserved producers, including those here in Texas, face the impacts of climate change head-on with limited resources and can benefit most by harnessing the growing market demand for agricultural commodities produced in a sustainable and climate-friendly way. We look forward to working with the University of Texas at Arlington to expand markets for climate-friendly commodities and ensure small and underserved producers capitalize on these market opportunities.”

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