Research Projects

1. NMSU Initiative on Carbon Management and Soil Health
The main goal of the NMSU initiative on carbon management and soil health in arid and semi-arid environments is to identify, verify and disseminate cost effective practices to soil health and carbon management in all major land use types, i.e., croplands, rangelands, forests, and urban lands. NMSU has the existing facilities to create living laboratories to identify, evaluate, and demonstrate the action steps. Four of our existing Agricultural Science Centers (ASCs) will serve as living laboratories, examining the viability and verifiability of C sequestration approaches for arid and semi-arid lands. In addition, off-campus ASCs across the state and on-campus crop, range, and turf-management sites will demonstrate C sequestration practices unique to those regions. 

2. Soil Health Framework for Water-Limited regions
There is a growing consensus around a set of soil health indicators that are repeatable, sensitive to management changes, and include chemical, physical, and biological components. However, a framework that links soil health indicators to essential soil functions and their relative sensitivity to management decisions in water-limited environments is yet to be identified. The overarching goal of this project is to develop that framework under two major management factors, cropping systems intensification and manure application, in water-limited environments. The project will evaluate the relationships between soil health indicators and specific soil functions, including a better mechanistic understanding of soil health and soil water dynamics. 

3. Conservation Systems in Drylands
Cropping systems that reduce or eliminate tillage and improve crop, soil, and water management strategies can enhance soil health and agricultural sustainability in the semiarid southwestern USA. We evaluate tillage systems, crop rotations, and other novel cropping strategies to improve soil health, reduce soil erosion, and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions from diverse crop rotations.

4. Cover Crops for Cropping System Diversification 
Typical cropping systems in the western United States use intensive tillage and a long fallow period to conserve moisture for crop production. Cropping system diversification through cover crops and alternative crops could improve soil health, water conservation, and sustainable crop production. We are evaluating the effects of various cover crops on soil properties, water conservation, and soil microbial community structure in different crop and forage production systems.

5. Optimizing Water Use for Sustainable Food Systems
The Ogallala Aquifer, one of the largest freshwater aquifers in the world, impacts global food supplies. However, a rapid decline in water level in the aquifer and climate change considerably affected agricultural systems in the High Plains region. We are collaborating with researchers, extension specialists, and other stakeholders from 6 states, 9 institutions, and 6 hub agricultural experiment stations to conduct regional research on the issues of water decline and long-term agricultural sustainability in the High Plains region. More information:  

6. Soil Sustainability in Changing Climate
Improved management practices that minimize disturbance, increase diversity in crop residue and nutrient inputs, and provide a consistent environment for microbial proliferation can accumulate more soil organic matter, a storehouse of nutrients. Soil organic matter also increases water holding capacity, pH buffering, soil aggregation and aggregate stability, and infiltration. We are working with researchers across the southern High Plains region to sustainably increase agricultural productivity while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing resilience and adaptation to climate change. More information

7. Forage Systems Project
Irrigated cropping systems in eastern New Mexico are mainly forage-based systems (e.g., silage corn and sorghum followed by winter wheat/triticale in a continuous cropping scenario). These intensively managed systems traditionally utilize annual cereal crops and exhaustive soils. Cover crops or alternative crops could promote crop diversity and improve soil health while increasing yields and forage quality. Information is limited on cover cropping practices and their impacts on soil water conservation, soil health, and farm profitability in forage-based systems. We evaluate how cover crops improve soil health, forage production, and the nutritive value of corn and sorghum silage.

8. Sustainable Farming Systems in Nepal
Sustainable crop production in Nepal is continuously challenged by environmental and economic pressures on farmers. We are working on research and demonstration projects that benefit farmers through improved soil management and integrated pest management practices on soil health and the agricultural sustainability of small-holder farming in Nepal. More information is also available at