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AFRI – FAS Soil Health (A1401)
Program Area Priority: Healthy soils function as a living system and sustain plant and animal productivity while providing ecosystem services such as water and air quality, mitigating climate change, and promoting plant, animal and human health. Soils are the foundation of a healthy ecosystem and, hence, it is imperative to improve our understanding of the physical and biogeochemical interactions of soil, the environment, and climate, as well as soil responses to management and amendments. This foundational knowledge will lead to the development of tools, practices, techniques and/or innovations for improving soil health, sequestering soil carbon, and strengthening the resilience and sustainability of agricultural production systems. Practices include soil-based enhancement of nutrient and water efficiencies, carbon sequestration, reduced inputs, application of amendments (e.g., fertilizers, manure, and biochar), and a reduction in chemicals of environmental concern. Practices based on indigenous traditional ecological knowledge are also appropriate for this program area priority. The goal of the Soil Health program area priority is to support research projects that will contribute to:
a. Foundational and applied research to advance scientific understanding of soil physical and biogeochemical processes and interactions;
b. Assessment, development and adoption of models, decision support tools and new climate-smart management/conservation practices that will lead to improving or maintaining soil health and productivity while maintaining or improving environmental health in a changing climate and sustainability of our natural resource base;
c. Soil health solutions grounded in interactions between natural and human dimensions of agricultural systems with a focus on effective environmental and economic management. Proposed projects that are primarily fundamental science must explain how a better understanding of the fundamental processes will lead to adoptable management strategies to improve overall soil health and the resilience and sustainability of agricultural production systems and ecosystem services in a changing climate.