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K-State Today

October 3, 2016



K-State agronomy researchers awarded grant to expand study of cover crops and fertilizer management

By Division of Communications and Marketing

Four researchers in Kansas State University's agronomy department were awarded a three-year, $468,599 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Services to continue research on cover crops and fertilizer management on phosphorous loss in surface runoff.

Nathan Nelson, associate professor of soil fertility and principal investigator of the project, oversees the Kansas Agriculture Watershed field laboratory, a project south of Manhattan to research the effects of agricultural management practices on water, sediment, nutrient and chemical losses. The field laboratory consists of 18 small watersheds, each approximately the size of a football field.

Nelson said the new study, "Protecting Surface Water with Healthy Soils and Cover Crops," will add additional measurements on soil water, soil structure and soil health.

"Patterns of runoff from our first few years of data collection indicate that complex soil processes and weather patterns are responsible for cover crop impacts on water loss," Nelson said. "We have selected the additional measurements and location to help elucidate interactions between weather, soil processes and cover crop management."

The project also will establish four water quality-monitoring sites as part of an on-farm demonstration that will measure water quality impacts of cover crops on producer fields.

The research team includes Peter Tomlinson, assistant professor of agronomy; Deann Presley, associate professor of environmental and soil science and management; and Gerard Kluitenberg, professor of soil and environment physics.

Read more about the project online

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