Building the soil immune system: Do cover crops increase soil health and resistance to climate change? [E2017-10]

Project Description: 

Healthy soils are key to solving some of the major environmental challenges of this era. This research project will further our knowledge of how cover crops affect soil health and resistance to climate change disturbances including freezing-thawing and drying-wetting cycles, and will also engage Iowa farmers in the scientific process. The project will use a combination of a network of 10-15 farmer-run strip trials of cover crops and a 15-year randomized and replicated study on cover crops to 1) determine if cover crops are universally beneficial to soil health and yield, 2) determine if adding a cover crop makes soils more resistant to extreme climate events, and 3) test a new, cheaper and more scientifically robust soil health indicator.

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Lead Investigator: 
Marshall McDaniel
Lead Investigator Bio: 

Marshall McDaniel is an assistant professor in the ISU Department of Agronomy, coming to ISU from post-doctoral work in Sydney, Australia. His work is focused on soil and plant interactions. He earned a B.S. in environmental science from the University of Oklahoma, a master's degree in natural resources and environmental science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and  earned a Ph.D. in soil science and biogeochemistry from Pennsylvania State University. 

Co Investigators: 

Stefan Gailans and Sarah Carlson, Practical Farmers of Iowa