Evaluate changes in crop management and get results now

Optimize water, carbon and nitrogen cycling to improve yields and minimize environmental impacts.

There has been a lot of talk over the last several years about management practices that can increase soil water-holding capacity, build soil health and keep nitrogen in the root zone and available for the next crop. As a result, farmers have been planting cover crops, adding crops to their rotations and making changes to their nutrient management program.

Farmers and researchers evaluate these and other management practices in the field each year. At the end of the growing season, we know how a particular practice worked in that field under the growing conditions for that year. This is and will continue to be an important part of evaluating management changes.

But wouldn’t it be nice to test a management change in a cropping system and get results instantly? The modeling program System Approach to Land Use Sustainability (SALUS) can do just that. The SALUS program is a new generation crop model used to evaluate alternative management practices such as crop rotations, planting dates, irrigation and fertilizer use and predict their impact on crop, soil, water and nutrient conditions under current and future climate conditions.

Bruno Basso, a researcher with Michigan State University’s Department of Geological Science and Kellogg Biological Station, uses SALUS to evaluate management scenarios on many crops under various management conditions to optimize yield and minimize environmental impacts. The beauty of the model is its ability to compare various scenarios under a variety of climate conditions and evaluate not only projected yield, but also water balance, soil organic matter, nitrogen cycles as well as plant growth and plant development.

Producers can learn more about SALUS and how this model can inform crop management decisions by attending Michigan State University Extension's Growing Michigan Agriculture Conference, March 5, 2014, at the Kellogg Center in East Lansing.

Registration information is available at http://bit.ly/GrowingMichigan. The cost for the conference is $75 by Jan. 28, 2014; $85 by March 3, 2014; and $95 at the door. To find out more information or to learn how to become a sponsor, contact ANR Event Services at events@anr.msu.edu or 517-353-3175.

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