Throughout the year numerous management projects have been funded by the South Dakota Wheat Commission including purchasing soil probes to give an early warning on potential winter injury, developing fertilizer management practices that decrease production costs while developing an effective management scheme for N fertilizer, evaluating crop rotations to decide if diseases or other factors cause yield differences, researching the possibility of planting winter wheat early to produce cover to reduce wind erosion thus meeting conservation compliance plans, etc.
The approach this year is to have more coordination between research projects. The projects are a series of collaborative studies that deal with selenium, nitrogen management and drought tolerance. Each investigator will collect preliminary data in their respective area of expertise. Then, under a project manger, they will team-up to share samples, resources, data and ideas, in order, to work more efficiently. Below is a brief symposium of the projects. For complete details, click on the project title.
South Dakota ag-producers are in a unique position — capitalize on the new global awareness of Se nutrition. Many of our agricultural soils in western South Dakota are seleniferous (having > 2ppm Se). These are the soils that form from the Niobrara marls and Pierre Shale which outcrop along the western edge of the Missouri River. With careful management it may be possible for producers in the Se enriched area of South Dakota to produce Se enriched wheat that can be made into food products and marketed to the Se deficient areas of the United States and the world at large.
There are three components that fit together to determine if South Dakota producers can identify and manage their naturally seleniferous soils to produce selenium-enriched wheat. Then, how to best mill or process their Se enriched wheat for a “well-being” food product. This capability would allow them to take advantage of market demands and provide a more stable, consistent supply of high selenium wheat for buyers.
The drought tolerance research will focus on measuring a wide range of plant physiological and morphological traits and identify the association between these traits and winter wheat yield in dry environments. The goal is to select for traits associated with drought tolerance early in the breeding program thereby increasing drought tolerance of the winter wheat varieties developed by the SDSU breeding program.
The most limiting nutrient for crop production in South Dakota is nitrogen. Nitrogen management is critical given this nutrient has increased in cost from 30 to 50 percent in the last few years. Management of nitrogen is even more critical in no-till production. Under no-till of a high residue crop such as wheat, nitrogen is incorporated into the soil with the increased carbon that accumulates with less tillage. The cycling of this nitrogen needs to be understood. Much of the nitrogen applied to no-till wheat systems is surface broadcast urea. Volatilization losses can be significant on such systems. Questions remain on how N application timing can limit these nitrogen losses.