Our civilization depends on continuously increasing levels of agricultural productivity, which itself depends on (among other things) the interplay of crop varieties and the environments in which these varieties are grown. Hence, to increase agricultural productivity and yield stability, it is necessary to develop improved crop varieties that deliver ever more yield, even under the variable weather conditions induced by global climate change, all the while minimizing the use of inputs such as fertilizers that are limiting, expensive or have undesirable ecological impacts.
We work to determine what drives the large variability in NO3-N losses from agricultural fields across the state.
Cover crops are an integral component of cropping systems because they grow in the fall and early spring - that is, times when the soil would not have a growing corn or soybean crop. At present, cover crops are grown to benefit soil quality and reduce nitrate loss. In the future, ongoing research at ISU promises to identify additional benefits such as weed suppression. Cover crop acres are growing exponentially.