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Steve Broome

Professor

Williams Hall 3214

Publications

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Grants

Date: 02/19/21 - 2/15/23
Amount: $46,105.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Agriculture - Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA NRCS)

PROJECT SUMMARY (Abstract) Overarching goals of this “On-Farm Trials” project are to (1) assistfarmers in the Southeastern Coastal Plain region to adopt field-validated and or oven soil-health management systems with cover crops and conservation tillage; and (2) evaluate the impact of these changes in management on soil health and farm profits. Recent research has shown there is a strong improvement in soil-test biological activity and net nitrogen (N) mineralization with adoption of no tillage and use of multi-species cover crops. These prime indicators of soil health can also predict the need for additional N to enhance corn yield. Although not tested in cotton systems, we have confidence that similar soil health changes will occur. Improvements in soil health condition will have high relevance to fine-tune soil fertility recommendations and increase farm profits in the Southeast U.S., as farmers in the region do not use soil testing to account for residual inorganic soil N or offer N credit from previous legume or cover crops while making soil N fertilizer recommendations. We propose to work directly with at least eight cotton growers each year in the Coastal Plain of South and North Carolina to demonstrate the value of cover crops and conservation tillage on promotion of soil health. Broader impacts of the project include demonstrating the importance of field-validated and proven soil-test biological activity on farms in the region, promoting the use of multi-species cover crops, engaging the participation of leading farmers and those curious in the concepts, and delivering social benefits to society (e.g. sustaining yield with optimized fertilizer inputs to improve environmental health).

Date: 10/01/18 - 9/30/22
Amount: $249,619.00
Funding Agencies: US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Water table levels (saturation periods) in wetlands vary across the wetland and change with soil type and drainage class. These saturation periods have not been determined for most soils, and consequently, hydrologic performance requirements for restored wetlands haven’t been well defined. The main objective of this project is to define saturation periods as a percentage of the growing season that restored wetlands should meet for the specific soils used for restoration. Saturation periods of natural wetlands will be determined for selected soil series ranging from very poorly drained organic soils to moderately well drained mineral soils. Data for most soils will come from prior investigations that measured water tables and computed 40 year records of water table data for each soil. Field monitoring of flood plain soils will also be conducted to complete the data base. Saturation periods for restored wetlands will be obtained from the data base of the NC Department of Environmental Quality which has catalogued water table and soils data from 233 restored sites in NC. Sites having soils similar to the natural sites will be identified, visited to determine soil type at each well location, and to assess wetland condition. Saturation periods will be compared between the restored and natural sites for a given soil type (series and drainage class). Saturation periods for wetlands successfully restored will be proposed for very poorly drained, poorly drained, somewhat poorly drained and moderately well drained classes. These results will allow saturation periods to be estimated for all soils across the region that restoration sites should meet to be successful.

Date: 10/01/19 - 8/31/22
Amount: $25,414.00
Funding Agencies: US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

The NC Foundation for Soil and Water Conservation is facilitating a collaborative partnership to promote Soil Health through hands-on educational immersion tools and on-farm cover crop demonstrations. Supporting partners include the 96 North Carolina Soil and Water Conservation Districts and their State Association, NC State University, and other conservation partners at the state and federal level. The primary purpose of this project is to demonstrate the value of protecting and enhancing our greatest natural resource – Soils. Soil Health is defined as the continued capacity of the soil to function as a living ecosystem. Most of the population does not understand Soil Health and its critical role in improving water quality. To shift the needle, the Soil Health program is designed to accomplish three overarching goals; to improve people’s understanding of natural resource and conservation issues, to change how people manage the natural resources on their property to benefit water quality, and to improve the soil’s production capacity. Project partners will use a three-pronged approach of on-farm cover crop demonstrations, community gardens on school campuses and a hands-on educational immersion tool, the Mobile Soils Classroom. These approaches will create a community of soil health supporters that crosses all ages and backgrounds. By directly involving producers and citizens to school kids and technical service providers, long term behavioral changes will occur. The Mobile Soils Classroom - Citizens need to be better educated on natural resource issues to maintain a healthy environment into the future. The Mobile Soils Classroom is a hands-on educational tool for all ages that exposes people to the value and importance of healthy soils in improving water quality, food production, conservation, and ecosystem services. A Mobile Soils Classroom contains supplies needed for a variety of educational demonstrations that promote a variety of environmental and conservation concepts. The Mobile Soils Classroom acts as an anchor resource for environmental field days with students to cover crop workshops for adults. Community Gardens on School Campuses - The current generation of children is growing up without an understanding of where their food comes from and the role soils play in sustaining life. Community gardens are an effective way to engage young people’s minds by providing hands on activities with supporting science and cultural lessons. Kids can take ownership in food production while learning about soils through “Soil Pop-Ups”. A Soils Pop-Up is an in-ground tube that can be pulled out of the ground to view the on-site soil profile. The Soils Pop-Up is designed to be reused multiple times, acting as an alternative to maintaining a soils pit. On-Farm Cover Crop Demonstrations - To foster a culture of change within the agricultural community, Project Partners are supporting on-farm demonstrations of multi-species cover crops. By providing demonstrations on working farms, producers will come to understand that a diverse mixture of cover crop species can be planted in a timely manner, allowed to grow and accumulate biomass and nitrogen, and then be terminated without using tillage allowing producers to maximize on soil health benefits. Soil function is improved by applying the following: minimize soil disturbance, increase plant and animal diversity above ground to increase soil diversity, keep a living root growing year-round and keep residue cover on the surface as long as possible. Using cover crops to add diversity along with a diverse crop rotation plus using a no-till system has shown long term and short-term benefits to soil health. These systems improve soil microbial activity, increased nutrient cycling, mitigated against drought, pests and increased profits over time. The Whole Package - The various project aspects will be tied together through Community level events, online resources and social media communications. Project Partners at NC State University will track soil health

Date: 09/01/16 - 8/31/21
Amount: $90,500.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Agriculture - Agricultural Research Service (USDA ARS)

The objective of the project is to conduct analyses of soil microbial biomass and mineralizable carbon and nitrogen in multiple experiments. This objective will help fulfill our research needs to develop improved fertilizer recommendations for forages and other crops. Soil processing and biological analytical techniques will be employed to obtain estimates of soil health and potential nitrogen supply.

Date: 10/01/14 - 9/30/20
Amount: $397,377.00
Funding Agencies: US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Wetland monitoring in NC has a ten-year history with much data collected on many wetland types. Important stakeholders are working with NC DENR to develop and implement a Wetland Program Plan. During this process, the agency was reorganized and funding was cut to NC’s Wetland Monitoring Program. As a land-grant institute whose mission is to protect the health and well-being of its citizens and natural resources, we must buffer the effects the elimination of this program will have on NC. This proposal seeks to expand the work done by the Wetlands Monitoring Program in NC by executing several key components documented in the EPA approved WPP. This proposal will expand and continue the monitoring of hydrology, water quality, soils, and biota at 18 long-term sites. The data from these sites will be analyzed to assess trends in wetland condition and establish baseline metrics for wetland mitigation as well as monitor other long term changes in wetland services. The efficacy of innovative technology will be tested to collect remote data. The proposal also will develop a comprehensive database for wetland monitoring data collected in NC. This will include establishing a wetlands monitoring technical workgroup to contribute to a more unified and robust monitoring effort in NC. The database will include data from a wide number of entities along with protocols for entering future data. This centralized wetland database will provide efficient access to wetland information for state and federal agencies as well as the public, including mitigation providers and conservation organizations.

Date: 04/01/18 - 12/31/19
Amount: $18,586.00
Funding Agencies: Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education Program/SR USDA

The primary goal of this project is to demonstrate to producers that diverse mixtures of cover crop species can be planted in a timely manner, allowed to grow and accumulate biomass and nitrogen, and then be terminated without using tillage allowing producers to maximize on soil health benefits. Soil Health is defined as the continued capacity of soil to function as a living ecosystem. Soil function is improved by applying the following: minimize soil disturbance, increase plant and animal diversity above ground to increase soil diversity, keep a living root growing year-round and keep residue cover on the surface as long as possible. Using cover crops to add diversity along with a diverse crop rotation plus using a no-till system has shown long term and short-term benefits to soil health. These systems improve soil microbial activity, increased nutrient cycling, mitigate against drought, pests and increase profits over time. Once producers understand these principles, the next obstacle to overcome is to put them into practice. The current funding request to Southern SARE will allow the current demonstration plots to continue through the 2018-19 season, establish more demonstrations with soil moisture sensors, and engage an increasing number of producers through field day events. Since 2013 fourteen counties in North Carolina have participated through their local soil and water conservation district (Conservation District). To date twelve counties are actively participating. The participating producers have a working knowledge and interest in promoting soil health to improve profits and are already following some basic conservation practices such as no-till. Conservation Districts are allocated funding to plant approximately 10 acres per county per year. Cover Crop requirements are: 1. A minimum of four species of cover crops (a minimum of two legumes) planted as a mix. 2. The cover crop can be broadcast prior to or drilled after cash crop harvest. 3. Broadcasting must be completed by September 30th at a 25% or higher seeding rate (mountain counties September 15th). 4. Drilling must be completed by October 31st (mountain counties October 15th). 5. Cover crops cannot be terminated until April 15th or after (mountain counties May 1st). 6. The next crop in rotation must planted into the cover crop residue using no-till methods the following crop year.

Date: 03/15/17 - 3/14/19
Amount: $5,000.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Agriculture - National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA NIFA)

Project Personnel will provide guidance to project development and oversee fieldwork and stat collection / interpretations. Specifically the project will document the short-term changes in soil, chemical, physical and biological properties related to the use of multi-species cover crops in different production systems representative of the three physiographic regions in North Carolina. Soil samples will be analyzed to determine C and N levels, which are considered key indicators of soil health. The short-term change will be equated to soil health improvements impacting nutrient cycling, water availability and crop yields. Information will be disseminated at the county level through Field Day events as well as general readership pamphlet that is supplied to all District offices. Information will be disseminated statewide and regionally at appropriate conservation partnership and commodity group meetings. Project results will be disseminated at national level technical meetings and in peer reviewed scientific journals, including at least one NRCS sponsored event. Recommendation for multi-species cover crop best management practices will be generalizable to the Southeastern USA for a variety of cropping systems.

Date: 10/01/13 - 9/30/17
Amount: $38,065.00
Funding Agencies: National Science Foundation (NSF)

Reclamation of wastewater from industrial and municipal sewage for direct non-potable reuse or for indirect potable reuse is necessary as freshwater resources are under stress and in need of conservation. This is true in North America where returning periods of extended drought can harm the economic base (particularly agriculture) or in remote communities across the globe where access to potable is limited and of insufficient quantity or quality to sustain the community?s well-being. Treatment processes utilized in water reuse applications are designed for removal of known pathogens and priority contaminants but public perception of risks associated with exposure to reuse water still impacts more widespread adoption. In essence, both centralized and decentralized waste water treatment systems are capable of creating a product of tertiary/advanced treatment quality. By the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency guidelines, water of this quality is recommended for many uses including the irrigation of food crops and if this were a more common occurrence public perception could be positively affected.

Date: 10/01/14 - 8/31/17
Amount: $90,053.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Agriculture - Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA NRCS)

Refining techniques for improving soil health will encourage economic stability at the farm level through the proper management of natural resources. The soil is a living ecosystem that if provided proper management will yield a better environment to produce greater crop yields. Proper management of multi-species cover crops will lower fertility costs, improve soil biological activity and diversity, help control weeds and reduce plant diseases, increase rainfall infiltration and storage, limit soil erosion, conserve soil moisture, and protect water quality by reducing nonpoint source pollution from farms. The project will document the short term changes in soil, chemical, physical and biological properties related to the use of multi-species cover crops in different production systems representative of the three physiographical regions in North Carolina. The short term changes will be equated to soil health improvements impacting nutrient cycling, water availability and crop yields. Information will be disseminated at the county level through Field Day events as well as a general readership pamphlet that is supplied to all District offices. Information will be disseminated statewide and regionally at appropriate conservation partnership and commodity group meetings. Project results will be disseminated at national level technical meetings and in peer reviewed scientific journals, including at least one NRCS sponsored event. Recommendations for multi-species cover crop best management practices will be applicable to the Southeastern USA for a variety of cropping systems.

Date: 03/01/13 - 2/26/16
Amount: $29,914.00
Funding Agencies: NCSU Water Resources Research Institute

A linked laboratory and field modeling study will identify optimum hydraulic and nutrient loading (particularly nitrogen) for two distinct restored wetland soils. This is vitally important in maximizing the potential water quality benefit because the amount pumped to the wetlands will equal the reduction of drainage water to the Pamlico Sound. Additionally, it must be ensured this project results only in improvements to the surrounding ecosystems. We hypothesize that nitrogen will be assimilated at a high level through physical and biogeochemical transformations that will occur while it flows through the restored wetlands. Major objectives include: 1. Utilize mesocosm-scale wetlands with restoration site soils to determine the nutrient assimilation potential. 2. Determine ideal volumes of water and loads of nutrients that can be diverted away from the Pamlico Sound and into the restored wetlands. 3. Increase stakeholder confidence in wetland restoration projects through more rigorous experimentation, and document challenges faced and changes in attitude to improve partnerships in future large-scale restoration/water quality projects.


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