October 28, 2015

Conservation management helps sustain natural resources

The relationship between environmental sustainability and Alabama’s production agriculture sector is the focus of work being led by College of Agriculture faculty member and AAES researcher Julie Howe.

Along with team partners in Georgia and Florida, Howe is examining how the use of conservation management practices in crop production—such as minimal or no tillage, winter cover cropping and incorporation of organic matter into soils—affect soil fertility and the environment in general. The work stands to increase both the profitability and the sustainability of modern production practices while also sustaining natural resources for future generations.

The economy of the lower Coastal Plains of Alabama, Florida and Georgia is dependent on economical row crop production, primarily peanuts and cotton. Unfortunately, continuous cropping coupled with intensive tillage has resulted in compacted soils, reduced water infiltration, and increased soil erosion.

Including a sod grass, such as bahiagrass or bermudagrass, into the crop rotation ameliorates some of the negative impacts of intensive peanut and cotton production and results in increased yields with reduced inputs.

The overall objectives of this multi-state project are to: 1) develop and compare the economic and environmental benefits of conventional and sod-based farming systems using conservation tillage systems, 2) quantify the positive impact that sod based rotations have on soil health, pest reduction, sustainable farm production, and soil carbon sequestration, and 3) refine and promote production practices in a sod-based rotation which result in significant yield increases associated with decreased inputs.

This project has the potential to improve producer income and stimulate rural economy in the Southeastern US. Furthermore, this project leads to sustainable production practices that benefit the environment by reducing nutrients losses, reducing nutrient inputs, sequestration of carbon, and reduced dependence on water resources for irrigation.

For More Information

Wayne Brewer
Visiting Professor
301 Funchess Hall
Auburn Univ, AL 36849
Vondraniece L. Johnson
TES Clerical
301 Poultry Science Building
Auburn, AL 36849
Allison A. Thompson
Accountant III
201 Poultry Science Building
Auburn Univ, AL 36849
Steven M. Gratz
203 Swingle Hall
Auburn, AL 36849
David R. Brasher
TES Clerical
204 Extension Hall
Auburn Univ, AL 36849
Lloyd D. Chapman
Regional Extension Agent III
P.O. Box 159
Belle Mina, AL 35615
Troy M. Farmer
Postdoctoral Fellow
222 Swingle Hall
Auburn Univ, AL 36849
Jaden K. Brown
Administrative Agriculture
107 Comer Hall
Auburn Univ, AL 36849
Lillian Culp
Undergraduate Intern
217 Rouse Life Sciences Building
Auburn University, AL 36849
William B. Head
Graduate Research Assistant
251 Upchurch Hall
Auburn Univ, AL 36849
Colton T. Christjohn
Animal Sciences
210 Upchurch Hall
Auburn Univ, AL 36849
Kristina M. Dattilo
TES General Labor
106 Greene Hall
Auburn Univ, AL 36849
Phillip A. Gunter
Animal Sciences
210 Upchurch Hall
Auburn Univ, AL 36849
Bill Abernethy
Vice President of Global Market Development at Prosensa Therapeutics
Erin M. Forte
Clinical Sciences
210 Upchurch Hall
Auburn Univ, AL 36849
Christy D. Hicks
Regional Extension Agent I
302 A Byrne Street
Bay Minette, AL 36507
Tracey L. Jeffery
TES Technician
203B Swingle Hall
Auburn Univ, AL 36849
Dr. Covadonga R. Arias
Auburn University, AL 36849
Claude E. Boyd
131 Aquatic Resource Management Building
Auburn University, AL 36849
Yolanda J. Brady
Associate Professor
209 Swingle Hall
Auburn University, AL 36849
Dr. Stephen A. Bullard (Ash)
Associate Professor
324 Upchurch Hall
Auburn Univ, AL 36849
Dr. Matt Catalano
Assistant Professor
217 Swingle Hall
Auburn University, AL 36849
Dr. Jesse A. Chappell
Associate Professor Extension Specialist
125 Swingle Hall
Auburn Univ, AL 36849
Bill Daniels
Acting Director of Global Programs, College of Agriculture; Associate Professor, School of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Aquatic Sciences; WAS President-Elect
Auburn University, AL 36849-5419
1-334-844-3212 (Global Programs)
1-334-844-9123 (SFAAS office)
1-334-844-9208 fax
Dr. Allen Davis
Alumni Professor
315 Swingle


Auburn University College of Agriculture
Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station
AUBURN, AL 36849
334-844-2783 (PHONE)