Integrating perennial crops into corn and soybean rotations doesn’t consistently increase the ability of soils to store carbon, according to a new study that defies expectations for how diverse cropping systems affect carbon sequestration.
Senior in agronomy Perla Carmenate spends her time taking classes at Iowa State as well as working in Dr. Emily Heaton, Associate Professor and Extension Biomass Crop Expert's lab.
As a first-generation college student that has been commuting from Des Moines all four
years, it was difficult for Perla to get involved early on in her college career. However, she has participated in conversations with students and faculty members that have brought awareness to issues multicultural students face at predominately white institutions. This helped develop her communication skills. Because she commutes, Perla has also learned how to manage her time between schoolwork and home responsibilities. The time management skill is important to many employers.
Iowa State University agronomists and horticulturalists have joined forces to find the best relationship between row crops and perennial cover crops.
They were awarded a National Institute of Food and Agriculture grant this year as part of the agency’s effort to support research on agricultural systems and production of biomaterials and fuels. Ken Moore, David Laird, and Andy Lenssen, all professors of agronomy, and Shui-zhang Fei, associate professor of horticulture, make up the team.
Photo: Graduate student Allen Chen uses the light box he made to take photos of perennial cover crops in a test field west of Ames in September.
The team is studying turfgrass species to be used as perennial cover crops since they do well in cooler weather, Fei said. They planted several varieties of turf grasses in field trials west of Ames this fall to see which do not compete with corn production while still providing environmental benefits.