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Jan. 24, 2024

Analyzing historical crop yields can reveal key soil health insights

Newly published research from Michigan State University shows how evaluating historical crop yields across distinct areas of agricultural fields can provide farmers with essential information on soil health characteristics and carbon sequestration.

Bruno Basso
Bruno Basso, John A. Hannah Distinguished Professor

The paper was published in Scientific Reports, a Nature journal.

Research was led by MSU soil scientist Bruno Basso and included Ames Fowler, Fidel Maureira, Neville Millar and Ruben Ulbrich from Basso’s laboratory, as well as William Brinton, founder and chief scientist at Woods End Laboratories, a soil health analysis company headquartered in Maine.

Basso is an expert in sustainable agriculture who serves as John A. Hannah Distinguished Professor in the MSU departments of Earth and Environmental Sciences, and Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences, as well as the W.K. Kellogg Biological Station.

For years, Basso has worked with farmers around the world to develop and implement methods of analyzing spatial and temporal data — which assesses crop management across space and time — to increase yields while lessening negative environmental impacts.

“Agriculture is facing major challenges around feeding a growing world population, climate change and environmental damage such as soil erosion and water pollution,” Basso said. “Boosting soil health can play a major role in combatting these issues. We know that soil health involves biological, chemical, and physical attributes, and we can help influence those to allow soil to provide water and nutrients, as well as sequester carbon.”

To read the full story, visit the AgBioResearch website.

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