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Monday, April 9 • 1:30pm - 1:45pm
SYMPOSIA-02: Telecoupled Management Decisions Affect Soil Health

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AUTHORS: Anna Herzberger, Michigan State University; Jing Sun, Chinese Academy of Sciences; Yuxin Tong, Heilongjiang Academy of Agricultural Sciences; Yue Dou, Michigan State University; Ciara Hovis, Michigan State University; Benli Chai, Michigan State University; Fang Wang, Chinese Academy of Sciences; James Tiedje, Michigan State University; Jianguo (Jack) Liu, Michigan State University

ABSTRACT: International food trade and globalized agriculture production have significantly increased over the past several decades resulting in telecouplings where domestic food consumption relies on distant production. For instance, to meet rising demands China imports large amounts of soybeans from Brazil and the United States. The environmental (e.g., deforestation) and socioeconomic effects (e.g., increased GDP) of soybean production have been widely studied in the exporting countries. However, little is known about the environmental effects of soybean trade in importing countries such as how crop conversion patterns affect soil health. Soil health is an indictor of ecosystem function and is determined by analyzing the physical, chemical and biological characteristics of the soil. By collecting 250 soil samples and conducting farmer interviews in Heilongjiang, the leading soybean producing area of China, this study examines the influence of soybean imports on farmer decisions and the subsequent impact on soil health. In response to low domestic soybean prices many farmers made telecoupled managed decisions by converting soybean cultivation to corn or rice cultivation. Results show differences in soil health were associated with environmental characteristics, crop choice (e.g., corn, rice, soybeans) and management decisions (e.g., rotation practices, fertilizer inputs, residue management). For example, farmers in the western region mainly converted soybean to corn production, which should increase the amount of organic matter in soil. However, because many farmers removed crop residue for fuel and fodder, organic matter content decreased with conversion to corn cultivation. As international food trade continues to telecouple distant parts of the world, understanding the complex relationships that connect macro-scale and micro-scale processes is necessary to achieve global food security and realize environmental sustainability.

Monday April 9, 2018 1:30pm - 1:45pm CDT
LaSalle 5 (7th Floor)