Targeting sustainable soil management practices using crop modeling in soybean systems.

Project Overview

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2016: $14,984.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2018
Grant Recipient: Penn State University
Region: Northeast
State: Pennsylvania
Graduate Student:
Faculty Advisor:
Dr. Gregory Roth
Penn State University
Faculty Advisor:
Armen Kemanian
Pennsylvania State University
Jack Watson
Pennsylvania State University

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: soybeans


  • Crop Production: continuous cropping, cover crops, crop rotation, double cropping, no-till, organic fertilizers
  • Education and Training: decision support system, extension, on-farm/ranch research, workshop
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems
  • Soil Management: organic matter, soil analysis, soil physics, soil quality/health

    Proposal abstract:

    Soybean (Glycine max L.) production has grown throughout the Northeast US during the past decade propelled by the increasing demand for and price of grains worldwide and the need for a locally produced feed source for the Northeast livestock industry. In order to maintain a sustainable local supply of soybeans, there is a need for crop producers to understand management tactics to improve crop profitability and productivity, especially during times of lower grain prices such as exist today. Soil health and crop productivity are intrinsically linked, and understanding the response of crops to soil health can help agronomists and producers target management practices in the region. In addition, it can help to project long term impacts of certain management practices on soil health, offering an economic rationale for investments in more sustainable soil management practices. The purpose of this project is to evaluate and deploy a crop modeling system - CYCLES - across a set of farms in Pennsylvania with the ultimate goal of deploying a decision support system for producers. Using field and modeling techniques, we will identify soil health attributes that are most closely related to soybean yield to both provide agronomists with indicators to use for field estimates of soybean yield potential and to improve model simulations. The outreach component will use multiple approaches, including newsletter articles, field days, and a workshop, to engage consultants and producers in learning about the research results and the potential for models to inform sustainable soil and crop management.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    The purpose of this project is to deploy and evaluate our approach of integrating soil health measurements
    with crop modeling to understand soybean yield variation across a set of farms in Pennsylvania with
    divergent soil management practices. We will identify the soil health characteristics that are most closely
    related to soybean yield variation and explore the extent to which the simulation model captures the effect of
    soil health on yields. The outreach part of our project will create an awareness of the potential of crop
    modeling in advanced crop management and share with producers and their consultants the potential for
    sustainable soil management to improve soybean yields and profitability.

    Specifically, the objectives are:

    1. Identify key soil health indicators that relate to soybean yield on commercial farms of PA.
    2. Evaluate and improve if needed the cropping systems model CYCLES at simulating the effects of soil health on soybean yields in the selected fields.
    3. Evaluate the impact of soil management history on soil health indicators and soybean yields.
    4. Create awareness among crop producers and consultants about the importance of soil health for crop yields and the ability to use crop modeling to make more sustainable crop management decisions.
    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.