California’s Mediterranean agro-ecosystems are a major source of U.S.
fruits and vegetables, and vulnerable to future extremes of precipitation
and temperature brought on by climate change, including increased
drought and flooding, and more intense and longer heat waves.
To develop resilience to these threats, strategies are necessary for
climate-smart management of soil and water. Long-term, large-scale,
replicated ecological experiments provide unique testbeds for studying
such questions. At the UC Davis Russell Ranch Sustainable Agriculture
Facility (RRSAF), the 100-year Century Experiment, initiated in 1992, is
investigating the effects of multiple farming practices in a farm-scale
replicated study of 10 row crop cropping systems. It includes different
fertility management systems: organic, conventional and hybrid
(conventional plus winter cover crop) systems; different crops: wheat,
tomatoes, corn, alfalfa, cover crops and grasslands; and different irrigation
systems: rainfed, flood irrigated and drip irrigated. We briefly describe
and report on a selection of long-term experiments conducted at RRSAF
investigating soil management and irrigation practices, which are an
important focus for developing climate-smart strategies in Mediterranean
systems. For example, long-term monitoring of soil carbon content
revealed that most crop systems have experienced a small increase in
soil carbon since 1993, and increases in organically managed plots were
substantially higher. As RRSAF continues to build upon this rich dataset
from one of a very few long-term row crop experiments in Mediterranean
ecosystems, it provides a testbed for identifying climate-smart solutions
for these agronomically important ecosystems.
Download full text here: Wolf et al. 2017 CalAg Long-term agricultural experiments
Or find online here: California Agriculture
Wolf KM, Herrera I, Tomich, TP, Scow KM. 2017. Role of long-term agricultural experiments in developing climate-smart agroecosystems. California Agriculture. 71(3):120-124. DOI#10.3733/ca.2017a0022.