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Luke Gatiboni

Asst Professor

Williams Hall 3403D


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Date: 10/01/21 - 9/30/26
Amount: $4,999,334.00
Funding Agencies: National Science Foundation (NSF)

The Science and Technologies for Phosphorus Sustainability (STEPS) Center is a convergence research hub for addressing the fundamental challenges associated with phosphorus sustainability. The vision of STEPS is to develop new scientific and technological solutions to regulating, recovering and reusing phosphorus that can readily be adopted by society through fundamental research conducted by a broad, highly interdisciplinary team. Key outcomes include new atomic-level knowledge of phosphorus interactions with engineered and natural materials, new understanding of phosphorus mobility at industrial, farm, and landscape scales, and prioritization of best management practices and strategies drawn from diverse stakeholder perspectives. Ultimately, STEPS will provide new scientific understanding, enabling new technologies, and transformative improvements in phosphorus sustainability.

Date: 04/01/20 - 4/01/23
Amount: $1,000,000.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Agriculture - Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA NRCS)

The objectives of this work align with the two distinct projects. The first objectives are to assemble and then develop peer-reviewed information about antagonistic effects of conservation practices on nutrient and sediment losses, with particular reference to different nutrient forms (e.g. particulate vs soluble P). Once assembled, this information will be vetted by land-grant faculty working in this area in order to develop an NRCS Tech Note. The second objective is to develop the Fertilizer Recommendation Support Tool(FRST) by designing and implementing the user interface, connecting the interface to a GIS system, as well as the soil test calibration and correlation data base that is already under development. Throughout the process testing will occur both internally to ensure the program works but also with end-users to ensure the tool is useful. We currently have 70 individuals throughout the US working on the FRST data base.

Date: 02/01/20 - 1/31/23
Amount: $24,309.00
Funding Agencies: Corn Growers Association of NC, Inc.

There is limited information available on the amount of nitrogen mineralized from previous manure applications in soils of North Carolina. To determine whether inorganic nitrogen applications to corn could be reduced in fields with a long history of manure application, a state-wide assessment will be conducted to determine the contribution of soil nitrogen to corn production in these situations. Extension Agents will identify farm fields for these nitrogen rate trials, which will be conducted in the Coastal Plain, Piedmont, and Tidewater regions of the state. The fields must have a history of manure application and a rotation that includes corn. Field strips will receive 30 lbs of starter N fertilizer per acre, and the strips will be split into five plots. Plots will receive varying rates of fertilizer (0, 50, 100, 150, and 200 lbs N/ac) at V4-V6 growth stage. Prior to sidedress N application, soil samples will be collected to determine the amount of inorganic nitrogen present in the soil. Grain yield will be measured, and the data collected will provide guidance on whether a pre-sidedress nitrate test could be utilized in manured soils in North Carolina, which could increase the efficiency of nitrogen use for North Carolina corn growers.

Date: 02/01/20 - 1/31/23
Amount: $63,096.00
Funding Agencies: NC Soybean Producers Association, Inc.

The use of best management practices and technology allow some fields in NC to yield 70 bu/A or more, defined as high-yielding soybeans. Although soil test phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) levels have been recently confirmed as sufficient, it is unclear if these levels are sufficient for high-yielding soybeans. Recalibration of soil test P and K for high-yielding soybeans is the objective of this research, which will occur at four farmer field sites that routinely harvest > 70 bu/ac soybeans. We will measure the plant tissue-P and -K, and yield during two cropping years. The results will be compared with those coming from three long-term P&K experiments conducted in different regions of North Carolina, in which the yield expectations are close to the average for the state. We request that the NC Soybean Growers will support the costs of a part-time undergraduate student, field supplies, travel costs, and, soil and plant analysis. Results from this project will be used to help determine the necessity of modifications in P and K recommendations for high-yielding soybeans in North Carolina.

Date: 10/01/10 - 9/30/22
Amount: $12,000.00
Funding Agencies: NC Small Grain Growers Association, Inc.

This project will support efforts by cooperative extension agents to diagnose specific crop nutritional or disease problems in small grains. This project will fund a limited number of samples to be submitted by cooperative extension agents for analysis at the NCDA&CS Agronomic Division plant tissue lab, and at the NCSU Plant Disease & Insect Clinic.

Date: 01/20/20 - 8/31/22
Amount: $200,000.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Agriculture - Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA NRCS)

The Agricultural Conservation Planning Framework (ACPF) supports watershed strategies for prioritizing and implementing conservation practices, including those directed at the riparian area and at runoff along concentrated flow pathways. Developed for conditions in the Midwestern states, ACPF shows great potential as a platform for targeting watershed conservation activities. Many questions remain, however, with regard to the effort and performance of ACPF in watersheds outside of the Midwest. In the Eastern United States, small fields, shallow soils, steep slopes, and region-specific conservation priorities all represent hurdles to ACPF implementation. There is a need to understand what is required to implement ACPF in such settings, assess its performance as a tool for watershed planning, and determine what adjustments may be required to improve its utility outside of the context in which it was developed. The overall goals of this: 1) Assess the processes and resources required to implement ACPF in watershed planning programs in North Carolina, and 2) Develop scientific understanding of the performance of ACPF in North Carolina.

Date: 01/01/20 - 3/31/22
Amount: $71,767.00
Funding Agencies: NC Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services

Industrial hemp is an emerging crop in North Carolina that offers an additional revenue stream for commercial producers. To date, appropriate nitrogen and potassium application rates have not been identified resulting in a void for production recommendations. Research will be initiated in 2019 to identify appropriate rates of both nutrients in a variety of growing environments. In-season agronomic measurements such as growth patterns, nutrient accumulation, yield, and floral tissue chemistry will be collected to best develop Extension recommendations and analytical sufficiency ranges. Results will be used for grower training, , Extension Bulletins, and will be published in peer-reviewed journals.

Date: 03/01/21 - 2/15/22
Amount: $60,027.00
Funding Agencies: NC Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services

Cigar wrapper (Nicotiana tabacum L.) is a novel tobacco type that has not been commercially produced in North Carolina. Due to steep declines in flue-cured and burley tobacco production in the state, farmers are searching for alternative tobaccos that might fill this new economic void. Cigar wrapper tobacco is intensively managed, but carries a market value that is roughly 1.5 to 3.5 times greater ($3.37 – 6.53/lb) than the current prices offered for flue-cured and burley tobacco ($1.87 and $2.00/lb, respectively). The infrastructure and general production knowledge required for this style of tobacco are present in North Carolina; therefore, it is presumed that success with cigar wrapper tobacco can be realized. Formal Extension recommendations focusing on fertilizer application rates, curing methodology, and enterprise budgets are not available, however. Research is warranted to develop recommendations that may foster the success of cigar wrapper tobacco.

Date: 02/01/20 - 1/31/22
Amount: $27,832.00
Funding Agencies: Corn Growers Association of NC, Inc.

Current information about the general status of the soil fertility and the soil health across the counties of North Carolina is lacking. This background information is essential to agricultural decision makers. To fill this information gap, we will collect and analyze soil samples from each of the 100 counties of North Carolina in quantities proportional to their different agricultural use and acreage. With help from extension agents and farmers, we will identify potential fields for sampling that best represents the agricultural usage in each region. Samples will be analyzed for soil acidity parameters, the availability of plant nutrients, and the soil health index. This information will be processed and organized to build comprehensive maps at the county level to be used by stakeholders for multiple purposes, as identification of BMP’s, comparison of soil fertility soil metrics, etc. Also, we will create an online dynamic spreadsheet where the user can select agricultural characteristics and regions, and the system will retrieve the average soil fertility and soil health from the characteristics selected using the soils information collected during this project. All samples will be anonymous and will not be geolocated.

Date: 02/01/21 - 1/31/22
Amount: $43,798.00
Funding Agencies: NC Soybean Producers Association, Inc.

Unmanned Aircraft (drones) are marketed in the agricultural sector as a ‘revolutionary’ technology. Although the technology and corresponding data are truly unique, the application of data outputs for agricultural management decisions (e.g., re-plant, pest management) remain unclear. This interdisciplinary project will investigate the use of drones in five key production areas 1) re-plant decisions, 2) incidence of fungal disease, 3) severity of insect-related defoliation, 4) weed identification and management, and 5) nutrient deficiencies. The project will evaluate common commercial drone technology to document baseline potential for decision support in soybean. The information generated by this project will be used to provide robust training to County Extension Agents and farmers across North Carolina on the use of these technologies to enhance profitability.

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