UC Catalyst award to study carbon dynamics in CA agricultural soils

Our team received one of the four 2016 recipients of the President’s Research Catalyst Awards for our proposed work on: “California Drought and Carbon Management for Agriculture,” $1.69 million, PI: Sam Ying (UC Riverside) and co-PIs  Asmeret Asefaw Berhe and Teamrat Ghezzehei (UC Merced), Kate Scow and Sanjai Parikh (UC Davis), Eoin Brodie, Peter Nico, Margaret Torn, Bill Riley (LBNL)

California agriculture, a backbone of the state’s economy, faces enormous challenges as access to a predictable water supply declines and becomes unpredictable. Soil quality or “soil health” is critical to how crops respond to climate variability. Vanguard research in the soil microbiome holds promise for understanding soil-carbon dynamics. In this project, collaborators bring their wealth of soil science knowledge and experience to examine how crops respond to drought using varying farming practices and irrigation methods.

This award is a major recognition for the quality of soil science research we are doing at UC Merced, and it positions Professor Ghezzehei and myself to play even bigger roles in demonstrating the critical part soils play in food security and climate change adaptation in California and beyond,” Berhe said. She co-wrote a paper for the prestigious journal Science this spring talking about the role of soils in human security.

The water in soil is critical to microbial community dynamics, carbon storage and plant productivity,” Ghezzehei said. “Improved understanding of the feedbacks between climate variability — including drought, El Niño and associated changes in precipitation and air temperature — and soil-water availability is essential for success and sustainability of agriculture and all terrestrial ecosystems. Specifically, as part of this work, we will study mechanisms of how changes in climate and water availability in agricultural systems affect soil aggregate dynamics and the carbon-sequestration potential of agricultural soils.”

Read the full story from UC Merced communications at this link

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