Submission Date

7-20-2017

Document Type

Paper- Restricted to Campus Access

Department

Biology

Faculty Mentor

Denise Finney

Comments

Presented during the 19th Annual Summer Fellows Symposium, July 21, 2017 at Ursinus College.

Project Description

Rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) are a major driver of global climate change. Farmers can help to mitigate this climate change by reducing CO2 emissions from agricultural soils. One way to do this is to include perennial forages within a crop rotation, which may reduce CO2 emissions: these forage species lead to a reduction in tillage, a practice known to increase soil respiration. Little is currently known regarding how the different forage crop species themselves influence CO2 emissions. To gain an understanding of the effects that crop selection and harvest have on soil carbon dynamics, we tested grasses, legumes, and grass-legume bicultures for soil respiration using a standard clipping procedure to mimic realistic harvesting. Our preliminary analysis indicates that grass species tended to exhibit higher rates of soil respiration than legumes and bicultures. We also observed a decline in soil respiration following harvest. The results of this study, which will continue for several more years to examine long-term effects, will help farmers select forage crops that reduce the impacts of food production on global climate.

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