Researchers look at knowledge gaps in biomass biogeochemical processes and ecosystem sustainability

June 27, 2016 |

In Washington state, an ARS researcher led a team looking at the current state of knowledge and highlight gaps in research on biogeochemical processes and ecosystem sustainability related to biomass production. Biomass production systems incrementally remove greater quantities of organic matter, which in turn affects soil organic matter and associated carbon and nutrient storage (and hence long-term soil productivity) and off-site impacts. While these consequences have been extensively studied for some crops and sites, the ongoing and impending impacts of biomass removal require management strategies for ensuring that soil properties and functions are sustained for all combinations of crops, soils, sites, climates, and management systems, and that impacts of biomass management (including off-site impacts) are environmentally acceptable. In a changing global environment, knowledge of cumulative impacts will also become increasingly important. Long-term experiments are essential for key crops, soils, and management systems because short-term results do not necessarily reflect long-term impacts, although improved modeling capability may help to predict these impacts.

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