Research Projects

1. Conservation Systems and Soil Health
Cropping systems that reduce or eliminate tillage and use improved crop, soil, and water management strategies can improve soil health and agricultural sustainability in the semiarid southwestern USA. We are evaluating conservation 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.

2. Cover Crops for Cropping System Diversification 

Typical cropping systems in the western United States use intensive tillage and 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 various crop and forage production systems.

3. Optimizing Water Use for Sustainable Food Systems

The Ogallala Aquifer, one of the largest freshwater aquifers in the world, and impacts global food supplies. However, a rapid decline in water level in the aquifer along with 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:  

4. 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, which is 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:

5. Sustainable Forage Systems

Irrigated cropping systems in eastern New Mexico are largely 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 are exhaustive on 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 are evaluating how cover crops improve soil health, forage production, and nutritive value of corn and sorghum silage.

6. Sustainable Farming Systems in Nepal

Sustainable crop production in Nepal is continuously challenged by environmental and economic pressures on farmers. We are working on a research and demonstration project in support of USAID Horticulture Innovation Lab that reveals the benefits of improved soil management and integrated pest management practices on soil health and agricultural sustainability of small-holder farming in Nepal. More information is also available at