RESEARCH THEMES

Managing Soil-Plant Interactions to
Boost Yields and Improve Environmental Quality

Understanding

and Enhancing

Soil Health

RESEARCH OVERVIEW

Research in the McDaniel Lab focuses on both sides of the "give-and-take" relationship between soils and plants, and how land management or global change (like climate change) might affect this relationship.  Much of the research in the McDaniel Lab is based in soil biology since soil fauna and microbes are crucial at both the give and take stages, as they are largely responsible for creating new soil organic matter and making nutrients available to plants.  In agroecosystems, much of the limitations in crop production and environmental issues are caused when this give-and-take relationship is out of balance.  Research from the McDaniel Lab informs agricultural management that helps to balance this relationship.  Management practices like crop rotations, cover cropping, no-till (or reduced tillage), and increased residue all can enhance soil-plant synergy. That is because they not only benefit the crops in the field, but also enhance soil health and increase sustainability.  When we get this soil-plant synergy on the farm, we also find that the environmental impacts of agriculture are also often reduced - like soil greenhouse gas emissions and nutrients lost to waterways.